History, Department of


Date of this Version

Summer 2019


Ben Taleb, B. “Facing Empire: Indigenous Experiences in a Revolutionary Age edited by Kate Fullagar and Michael A. McDonnell.” Published in Western Historical Quarterly, Volume 50, Issue 2, Summer 2019, Pages 164–165.

doi 10.1093/whq/whz033


Copyright © 2019 Western Historical Association. Published by Oxford University Press. Used by permission


Few scholars have tried to write a history that gives authorship and agency to Indigenous peoples within and across imperial borders. Expanding and drawing on recent scholarship, Facing Empire bridges multiple histories of British imperialism in Australia, North America, West Africa, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, the Persian Gulf, and the Cape of Good Hope, to unravel the intricacies of Indigenous peoples’ contacts, interactions, and negotiations with neighbors and newcomers throughout the Age of Revolution, 1760–1840. At the book’s core, editors Kate Fullagar and Michael A. McDonnell recenter Indigenous agency as a vital analytic framework for understanding how and why the legacy of this global past continues to resonate in modern politics and settler societies today. In doing so, they want to measure the overall impact Indigenous peoples had on European theories, policies, and modern practices (p. 7).

Having withstood many of the overtures and intrusions on their lands and seaports, Indigenous peoples were at the heart of this revolutionary age. They helped create instabilities on the new geographic and intellectual frontiers that defined nineteenth-century imperialism. Overlapping and variable practices molded early encounters, defined the nature and degree of intertwinement among themselves as well as with newcomers, and laid the foundation for future interactions. Drawing together the major themes articulated across this impressive anthology of thirteen chapters, the editors have divided their collection into three sections: “pathways, entanglements, and connections” (p. 13).

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