The colonial history of the American Southwest looks quite a bit different today than it did only a decade ago. We used to know who the empires were: the Spanish imperial project commenced in the sixteenth century and held back the advance of the French imperial project during the eighteenth century, before both succumbed to the American imperial project in the nineteenth century. We used to know who the barbarians were as well: as the Germanic hordes were to Rome, so the bellicose equestrian tribes of the Plains were to European and Euro-American civilizations. But now these plot lines have come undone. Now we are told that, for much of the colonial era, some of the most ambitious imperial actors were Native American—and that the Comanche in particular were involved in a strange form of "reversed colonialism," startling the European colonizers by attempting to colonize them in return. In this presentation, I report on new archaeological discoveries that complicate and extend this revisionist understanding of intercultural power dynamics in the colonial Southwest.
Severin Fowles is an Associate Professor at Barnard College and Columbia University who has spent the past two decades investigating the pre-colonial, colonial, and modern histories of the American Southwest. He is the author of An Archaeology of Doings: Secularism and the Study of Pueblo Religion (2013, SAR) and the co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Southwest Archaeology (in press, Oxford). His current research focuses on the archaeology of Comanche imperialism in eighteenth century New Mexico.
Free and open to the public.
Sponsored by Western Cultural Resource Management and supported by the CU Boulder Department of Anthropology and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.