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Thomas Peace


The Clio Prizes


Thomas Peace, The Slow Rush of Colonization:  Spaces of Power in the Maritime Peninsula, 1680-1790. Vancouver:  University of British Columbia Press, 2023.

Theoretically sophisticated, meticulously researched and elegantly written, The Slow Rush of Colonization reframes our understanding of Northeastern North America in the 17th and 18th centuries.  The Maritime Peninsula is the space at the centre of this book – stretching from present-day Montreal in the west to Prince Edward Island in the east; from the northern shores of the St. Lawrence to New York in the south – these were the homelands of the Wabanaki, Mi’kmaq, Wendat and other nations who interacted with Europeans who had established sustained presences in places such as Quebec and Boston.  Drawing upon Elizabeth Mancke’s conception of “spaces of power,” Peace maps this territory – both literally and conceptually – in a way that reveals the degree to which historiographical focus on the competition between the British and French empires has obscured the many continuities underpinning Indigenous control of a territory characterized by diversity, interconnection, and mobility. Colonization’s slow rush unfolded through processes and conflicts – what Peace calls “settler conquests” – over decades, where wars, alliances, treaties, proclamations, and schools advanced settler occupation of Indigenous spaces and naturalized their presence within them.  Within this book, events familiar to colonial history – the Acadian expulsion, the conquest of Quebec, the Royal Proclamation of 1763 – are seen anew, in relation to the uneven development of settler colonialist occupation of Indigenous lands and waterways.  Dealing with sophisticated concepts, but written in a lucid and accessible style, this book is a major intervention in the historiography which requires readers to rethink the way we teach and write about colonial history in this region and this era.