The Creation of Imperial Space in the Pacific Northwest

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    Abstract

    This paper discusses two diplomatic disputes that had a central bearing on the creation of imperial space in the Pacific Northwest: the Nootka Sound crisis (1790), which brought Britain and Spain to the brink of war over the spoils of trade and empire in the Pacific, and the Anglo-American dispute over the Oregon Territory, which dragged on from 1818 to 1846. It is argued that British, Spanish and American politicians and diplomats created an imperial domain that had both Western and national contours. On the one hand, they worked with the polarity between civilization and savagery, and shaped an abstract imperial space that circumscribed processes of Native-Western interaction in the region. On the other hand, they worked with different discourses on sovereignty and competing visions of empire. The paper contributes to recent debates about the spatiality of imperialism by pointing to the tension between the universalist and nation-centred cast of imperial aggrandisement, knowledge-production and dominion. (C) 2000 Academic Press.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)327-350
    Number of pages24
    JournalJournal of Historical Geography
    Volume26
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2000

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