Colonial Governance

Governance and Microtechniques of Power in Colonial North America, 1680-1760

Project Area B3 in the Research Center (SFB 700) "Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood: New Modes of Governance?"

Brief Description

The research project focuses on the interrelation of institutionalized forms of authority, political power, and modes of regulation in European settlements of colonial North America. The project investigates the various forms of governance that evolved or were created in order to provide the material conditions for the settlement and the economic stabilization of the colony by comparing selected political spaces in two French and two British colonies (Nouvelle France/Canada and Louisiana; Massachusetts and South Carolina) during the period of crown rule. Our research concentrates on modes of political rule which do not primarily and exclusively rest on government action but also involve the manifold forms of self-government and self-regulation by the settler communities. The examination of “microtechniques of power” will shed light on the private dimension of political rule and forms of governance that rely on norms and institutions provided by the church, the school, the family, and the individual.

Coordination

Prof. Dr. Ursula Lehmkuhl

Researchers

Dominik Nagl, M.A.
Marion Stange, M.A.
Deniz Koçak
Hanno Scheerer

Long Description

The research project focuses on the interrelation of institutionalized forms of authority, political power, and modes of regulation in European settlements of colonial North America. The project investigates the various forms of governance that evolved or were created in order to provide the material conditions for the settlement and the economic stabilization of the colony by comparing selected political spaces in two French and two British colonies (Nouvelle France/Canada and Louisiana; Massachusetts and South Carolina) during the period of crown rule. Our research concentrates on modes of political rule which do not primarily and exclusively rest on government action but also involve the manifold forms of self-government and self-regulation by the settler communities. The examination of “microtechniques of power” will shed light on the private dimension of political rule and forms of governance that rely on norms and institutions provided by the church, the school, the family, and the individual.

Our analysis is based on a threefold comparative framework: we not only contrast French with British colonies, but also Northern provinces (Canada and Massachusetts) with southern colonies (Louisiana and South Carolina) and urban contexts with rural ones. The selection of our case studies is based on the fact that they significantly differ in their political and administrative systems, their geographical position, their settlement structures and their economies. Our microhistorical approach will enable us to describe the diverse ways colonial rule worked on a local level, how it infiltrated and shaped the everyday practices of white and non-white colonial subjects and how it responded to challenges and moments of unrest.

More on the Research Center SFB 700 and the Project Area.