Network Transitions on a Contested Periphery: From Prestige Goods to Bulk Goods (or not) in Northeastern North America, 1600-1760

Jonathan Leitner

Abstract


This paper examines the Euro-Indigenous fur trade in northeastern North America, following Carlson's use of Chase-Dunn and Hall's nested interaction networks to examine a similar trade during roughly the same time period on the continent's other side. These network interactions took place on what became a contested periphery, and they shaped the development of states and the modem world-system , with Europeans contending with each other and with Native Americans for political and economic control, and at times mere survival. European political-military networks were essential to maintaining colonies, and in contrast to what the general interaction networks model posits, these were made up of or at least coterminous with nested prestige goods networks. Europeans were initially dependent upon prestige goods networks with Native Americans; indeed , the French political military network in North America was arguably formed by ( or at least supported by) the various Franco-Indigenous prestige goods networks. The French, Dutch, and British all attempted to transition their colonial economies from the extractive economies and low settler population densities typically associated with prestige goods networks to the agricultural economies and higher settler population densities of bulk goods networks. The paper traces the attempted colonial interaction network transitions from contested peripheries within Euro-Indigenous prestige goods networks to settled colonies within bulk goods networks and firmly within a given core powers' imperial political military network. The success ( or failure) of these network transitions helped determine the Euroamerican colonies ' geopolitical futures in the world-economy, as well as those of their indigenous neighbors and their struggles for physical survival and political sovereignty.

Keywords


Exchange networks; fur trade; colonialism

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jwsr.2013.505

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Copyright (c) 2015 Jonathan Leitner

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