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Savagery and the State: Incivility and America in Jacobean Political Discourse

WORKING, LAUREN,NOEMIE (2015) Savagery and the State: Incivility and America in Jacobean Political Discourse. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines the effects of colonisation on the politics and culture of Jacobean London. Through sources ranging from anti-tobacco polemic to parliament speeches, colonial reports to private diaries, it contends that the language of Amerindian savagery and incivility, shared by policy-makers, London councillors, and colonists alike, became especially relevant to issues of government and behaviour following the post-Reformation state’s own emphasis on civility as a political tool. Practices such as tobacco-smoking and cannibalism were frequently invoked to condemn the behaviour of disobedient English subjects and to encourage orthodoxy, while justifying a more extensive level of interference in the habits and customs of subjects as well as native peoples. By focusing on the interrelation between the state’s twin projects of civilising others and consolidating authority within the realm, this thesis challenges the scholarly tendency to view colonisation as existing outside state politics prior to the development of empire, and locates a distinct vogue for cultivation – both of landscapes and of the civil subject – that played a role in James’ own conception of sovereignty.

This engagement with America and its indigenous populations indicates a significant colonial moment in London in the 1610s and 1620s, located in converging political and ‘civilising’ centres including Whitehall, parliament, and the Inns of Court. Moreover, a growing familiarity with colonial affairs did not just manifest itself in the rhetoric or the actions of colonists and project promoters, but can be used to identify changing modes of consumption and shifting attitudes in London towards sociability and the articulation of state authority. These initiatives increased the scope for political participation in the metropolis, while shaping the development of civility and status in relation to cultural difference.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:civility; James I; state formation; colonisation; Anglo-Amerindian relations
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > History, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:07 Dec 2015 08:58

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