Material Diplomacy: Indigenous and European Networks of Exchange in French Mobile, 1699-1739

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Levin, Jennifer, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Edelson, S. Max, AS-History, University of Virginia

This dissertation positions the French settlement of Mobile at the confluence of intercolonial and intertribal relations in the larger Atlantic World. Founded in 1702 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, Mobile was the second permanent settlement established in French Louisiana. Though small in population, numbering a few hundred inhabitants for much of its French history, Mobile was a node for both local and long-distance interaction. Through the study of objects, the dissertation adds new characterizations to stages within French Louisiana’s development from a nascent outpost into an established colony. Trade with the petites nations, comprising at least forty small, independent Indigenous polities, in the Lower Mississippi Valley set the stage for long-distance trade in continental North America. Even after the rise of New Orleans in 1718, the focus on Mobile’s enduring connections across space shows how this coastal borderland connected the Gulf Coast, the West Indies, and the North American continent. The material record of Mobile’s extensive diplomatic and economic connections made it the center of a world of exchange that linked these spaces together.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Gulf South, French Louisiana, Mobile, Material culture
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