Chasing Empire Across the Sea

Chasing Empire Across the Sea

Communications and the State in the French Atlantic, 1713-1763

eBook - 2006
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Banks defines and applies the concept of communications in a far broader context than previous historical studies of communication, encompassing a range of human activity from sailing routes, to mapping, to presses, to building roads and bridges. He employs a comparative analysis of early modern French imperialism, integrating three types of overseas possessions usually considered separately - the settlement colony (New France), the tropical monoculture colony (the French Windward Islands), and the early Enlightenment planned colony (Louisiana) - offering a work of synthesis that unites the historiographies and insights from three formerly separate historical literatures. Banks challenges the very notion that a concrete "empire" emerged by the first half of the eighteenth century; in fact, French colonies remained largely isolated arenas of action and development. Only with the contraction and concentration of overseas possessions after 1763 on the Plantation Complex did a more cohesive, if fleeting, French empire first emerge.


McGill Queens Univ Pr
Banks defines and applies the concept of communications in a far broader context than previous historical studies of communication, encompassing a range of human activity from sailing routes, to mapping, to presses, to building roads and bridges. He employs a comparative analysis of early modern French imperialism, integrating three types of overseas possessions usually considered separately - the settlement colony (New France), the tropical monoculture colony (the French Windward Islands), and the early Enlightenment planned colony (Louisiana) - offering a work of synthesis that unites the historiographies and insights from three formerly separate historical literatures. Banks challenges the very notion that a concrete "empire" emerged by the first half of the eighteenth century; in fact, French colonies remained largely isolated arenas of action and development. Only with the contraction and concentration of overseas possessions after 1763 on the Plantation Complex did a more cohesive, if fleeting, French empire first emerge.

Drawing on a vast array of official correspondence, merchant's letters, ship's logs, and graphic material from archives and research libraries in Canada, France, and the United States, Kenneth Banks details how France, as the most powerful nation on the Continent and possessing a tradition of maritime interest in the Americas and West Africa dating back to the earliest years of the sixteenth century, seemed destined to take a leading role in exploiting and settling the Americas and establishing posts in West Africa. That it largely failed to do so can be explained in large part by problems emanating from information exchange in an early modern authoritarian state. Banks provides a historical context for the role of communications in the development of the imperial nation-state and offers an Atlantic World perspective on the growing body of literature revising the historical role of absolutism.

Banks defines and applies the concept of communications in a far broader context than previous historical studies of communication, encompassing a range of human activity from sailing routes, to mapping, to presses, to building roads and bridges. He employs a comparative analysis of early modern French imperialism, integrating three types of overseas possessions usually considered separately - the settlement colony (New France), the tropical monoculture colony (the French Windward Islands), and the early Enlightenment planned colony (Louisiana) - offering a work of synthesis that unites the historiographies and insights from three formerly separate historical literatures. Banks challenges the very notion that a concrete "empire" emerged by the first half of the eighteenth century; in fact, French colonies remained largely isolated arenas of action and development. Only with the contraction and concentration of overseas possessions after 1763 on the Plantation Complex did a more cohesive, if fleeting, French empire first emerge.
Drawing on a vast array of official correspondence, merchant's letters, ship's logs, and graphic material from archives and research libraries in Canada, France, and the United States, Kenneth Banks details how France, as the most powerful nation on the Continent and possessing a tradition of maritime interest in the Americas and West Africa dating back to the earliest years of the sixteenth century, seemed destined to take a leading role in exploiting and settling the Americas and establishing posts in West Africa. That it largely failed to do so can be explained in large part by problems emanating from information exchange in an early modern authoritarian state. Banks provides a historical context for the role of communications in the development of the imperial nation-state and offers an Atlantic World perspective on the growing body of literature revising the historical role of absolutism.

Book News
Banks (history, Mars Hill College) defines the "first French Empire" as its holdings in North America (Acadia and Louisiana) and the French Caribbean before the 19th Century and examines the role of transportation and information exchange in the creation of transoceanic administration in these areas. Understanding communications as comprised of both "transmission" and "ritual" components, he seeks to understand how French communications impacted the development of the French Atlantic from 1604 to 1763 and its relation to early modern French state-building. He argues that the challenges posed by transatlantic communication eventually undermined the French state's control over its colonies during the first half of the 18th Century. Annotation (c) Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Publisher: Montreal : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006
Edition: 1st pbk. ed
ISBN: 9780773570641
0773570640
Characteristics: 1 online resource

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