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Native American Whalemen and the WorldIndigenous Encounters and the Contingency of Race$
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Nancy Shoemaker

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622576

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622576.001.0001

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Cultural Encounters

Cultural Encounters

(p.79) 4 : Cultural Encounters
Native American Whalemen and the World

Nancy Shoemaker

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the dominance of cultural encounters depicting the white, clothed, civilized, Christians coming upon the primitive, exotic, naked, heathen (or newly missionized naïve Christians), savage, and dark skinned “Indians” within the colonial imagination, despite the racial diversity of whaling crews outright debunking that myth with the mere fact that the “Indians” in question had stood on both sides of the beach. The cultural encounter narrative as a way of seeing had an ideological utility, which gave it an endurance despite its inherent fallacy. Although the obvious diversity of whaling crews should have been enough to expose the cracks in tales of white exploration and conquest, nineteenth-century whaling literature did not confront the ambiguity of the category “Indian” head-on. One consequence is that such representations made invisible the labor of colonized people in imperial expansion.

Keywords:   cultural encounter narrative, whaling literature, whaling crews, imperial expansion, colonized people, racial diversity

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