Dr Taylor Spence

My historical research and writing seek to re-frame United States history as a colonial history in its own right. I believe that this approach makes sense both because the U.S. emerged from European colonial and imperial endeavors, but also because it helps explain the tensions and struggles the U.S. is experiencing today.  Tracing the colonial lineage of United States history reveals the centrality of the encounter between settler colonials, their states, and Indigenous, African, and mestizo women and men of the continent.  Borderlands, almost always situated in the heartlands of Indigenous societies, become the spaces for describing and analyzing this colonial encounter.  Borderlands theory and method, as well as post-colonial theories of the subaltern, the body, geophysical space, and the archive, are useful tools for getting at these histories.  A post-colonial analysis of U.S. history more clearly demonstrates how systems of patriarchy, race ideology, agri-culture, and class distinctiveness have functioned to construct power and privilege, as well as to maintain the status quo.  Seeing U.S. history as a colonial history breaks down the mystification of American Exceptionalism with the aim of seeing the history of the U.S. and its people, and the people of North America, in all of their separateness and distinctiveness.  It also brings the U.S. into closer dialog with other nations that have emerged out of imperialism and colonialism worldwide.

I am currently revising my book manuscript (forthcoming from the University Press of Virginia) called The Endless Commons: The Borderland of North American Empires and the Origins of American Expansion, 1783-1848. In this project I identify a unique space I call Cataraqui – “fort in the water” – a borderland that stretched from the mouth of the St. Lawrence River across Wabanaki, Haudenosaunee, and Anishnaabe homelands to the Great Lakes. This borderland opened up after the American Revolution when the Treaty of Paris cut a line across these Indigenous spaces and divided democracy from monarchy. Bringing together U.S., British and French Canadian, and Indigenous sources I tease out the larger significance of a series of rebellions, revolts, and one successful revolution that took place on either side of this border between 1837 and 1848 and which have never been fully explored nor understood as one borderland event. I show how Indigenous and non-Indigenous Cataraquians made their contribution to the broader global “Age of Revolution.”

A second book project chronicles the never-before-told story of the “Jewish Agrarian Diaspora,” migrant Jews who settled in contested colonial spaces of so-called “pioneer states” – Australia, Argentina, Israel, Canada and the United States – in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

You can follow me at Twitter (taylortheartist)

Personal website:  www.taylorwyoming.com.