The Clio Prizes
Susan Dianne Brophy, A Legacy of Exploitation: Early Capitalism in the Red River Colony, 1763-1821. University of British Colombia Press.
In her book A Legacy of Exploitation: Early Capitalism in the Red River Colony, 1763-1821, author Susan Dianne Brophy dismantles many facets of conventional narratives around the commercial fur trade at Red River during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Using a modified Marxist framework that emphasizes the complex relationship between the colonial process of dispossession and the autonomy of Indigenous producers, Brophy challenges linear, stagist accounts about the shift to capitalist modes of production in the Northwest. Instead, she argues in favour of a far more nuanced and uneven process, where two modes of production often entered into “a fragile synthesis.” She rejects assertions of parochialism by linking processes and events at Red River to the global development of settler colonialism and capitalist modes of production. Last but not least, she centres Indigenous concepts of place in her analysis, emphasizing their role in both economic activity and legal transformations in the Northwest.