Early American History Seminar: Sarah Pearsall, Oxford Brookes University

Early American History and Culture Seminar
Thursday, February 24, 2011

5:30 pm to 7:00 pm

Scholl Center Seminar papers are pre-circulated electronically.  For a copy of the paper, e-mail the Scholl Center at scholl@newberry.org.  Please do not request a paper unless you plan to attend.

“Warning Stories and Radically Conservative Choices: The Politics of Polygamy in Early Spanish North America
Sarah Pearsall, Oxford Brookes University

This paper examines conflicts over polygamy in early Spanish North America, attending to confrontations occasioned by colonial and missionary contacts. The study of early American polygamy provides a novel perspective and a deeper understanding of concerns with which Americans continue to wrestle: who has the right to regulate and define marriage, and why. It also raises questions about the place of family, kinship, and gender in colonial encounters. This paper argues that disputes over marriage and polygamy were in many cases central to larger conflicts between colonizers and Native Americans. This paper will focus on arguments over polygamy in missions in Spanish colonies in North America.