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Eloquence EmbodiedNonverbal Communication among French and Indigenous Peoples in the Americas$
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Céline Carayon

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469652627

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469652627.001.0001

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“The Most Thorough Traitors and Deceivers”

“The Most Thorough Traitors and Deceivers”

Embodiments of Trust and Deception in the Seventeenth-Century French Atlantic

(p.230) 4 “The Most Thorough Traitors and Deceivers”
Eloquence Embodied

Céline Carayon

University of North Carolina Press

As permanent colonial settlements took roots and French-Indigenous relations solidified in the seventeenth century, intercultural relations were increasingly defined by a tension between trust and distrust. Dependence on Indigenous knowledge made it necessary for the French to credit their allies with some degree of truthfulness. At the same time, they always remained on their guard, and used observations of Native bodies and movements to ground their claims about the quintessential deceptiveness of Indians. The French also used nonverbal eloquence in return to deceive and enact violence against Indigenous peoples. This chapter explores the complex intermingling of sincere friendship and deep distrust in seventeenth-century French colonial contexts, with a particular focus on the Circum-Caribbean region. The first section of the chapter is dedicated to the ways Indigenous bodies and embodied expressions were targeted as inherently “treacherous” by French writers. Next, the Indigenous practice of fictive kinship known as compérage by the French in Brazil, Guiana, and the Antilles is illuminated to understand how personal and intimate bonds worked or failed to preserve peace between the groups.

Keywords:   dependence, trust, distrust, deceptiveness, Native bodies, friendship, violence, Circum-Caribbean, Compérage, intimacy

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