'FOR PROFIT, PLEASURE AND SPORT': RECREATION, CULTURE AND SOCIETY IN THE ATLANTIC WORLD, 1600-1700
Speaker: Natalie Deibel (George Washington University)
As seventeenth-century Dutch, French, British and Spanish colonists attempted to establish new and competing settlements in the New World, the leisure activities they engaged in helped construct and transform early modern social and cultural structures. Activities like dancing, drinking and gambling, which had helped maintain distinctions based on socioeconomic status and gender in the Old World, acquired new significance in a New World in which women were scarce and government officials rare on the ground. In areas of contact between Native Americans and European women and men, recreations such as hunting, football, cockfighting and animal baiting fostered dynamic cross-cultural interactions even as they established new hierarchies based on ethnicity, gender and, increasingly, race. Natives and colonists experiences in the fledgling colonies of New York and the Chesapeake, in particular, typify the complex social and cultural forces that crystallized around questions of recreation during this period.
By examining legal records, correspondence, contemporary pamphlets, diaries, and material artefacts, this paper will explore the important role leisure activities of all kinds including dancing, card-playing, racing, drinking, hunting, bowling, and other sports and games -- played in the emerging social and cultural orders of the Atlantic world. It will argue that the leisure activities colonists and Native Americans pursued in the cosmopolitan colony of New York and the Chesapeake settlements of Maryland and Virginia profoundly influenced contemporary notions of gender, social status, and ethnicity. Over time, the emerging codes governing leisure pursuits changed the relationship between elite and popular culture in the Atlantic world, created new boundaries between the sexes, and contributed to an American colonial identity fraught with contradictions concerning ethnicity and race.
Natalie Deibel is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Early Modern European and Atlantic History at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She is writing a dissertation tentatively entitled "'For Profit, Pleasure and Sport': Recreation, Culture, and Society in an Atlantic Context, 1600-1750" which explores gender, social status, and ethnicity around the Atlantic littoral through the lens of recreation.
Time and Date: 5:15 PM, Monday, 14 February
Location: Ecclesiastical History Room, Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
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