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Introduction

  • Author(s): Thorne, Tanis
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license
Abstract

As a form of conquest, intimate relations in colonial settings have long tan­talized observers, but since the 1980s these relationships have gained cen­ter stage. Sylvia Van Kirk's Many Tender Ties and Jennifer S. H. Brown's Strangers in Blood-both published in 1980-were pioneering studies of interracial marriage in the fur trade. The emerging cadre of fur trade social historians (myself among them) explored women's agency, reconstructed kinship networks, and asked questions about the ethnicity of biracial and bicultural families.1 Since Michael Foucault's assertion that sex is a "'dense transfer point' of power" began influencing such scholars as Ann Stoler, the feminists' credo that "the personal is political" has gained intellectual heft. Scholars are finding renewed significance in both metissage and interstitial groups of mixed-bloods. The growing historiography on "intimate colo­nialism" strives to make "connections between the broad-scale dynamics of colonial rule and the intimate sites of implementation," explains Stoler. 2

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