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"One Indian and a Negroe, the first thes Ilands ever had": Imagining the Archive in Early Bermuda


The early generations of enslaved and bonded Africans and Indians in Bermuda were essential to the functioning of the colony. But beyond their contributions to the colonial enterprise, they continued to practice the skills that connected them to spiritual entities whose power enabled them not only to comprehend their environment but also to affect it directly. In their initial approach to Bermudian shores, in fishing, processing manioc, thatching and weaving with parts of the palmetto tree, as well as making cords with cotton and palmetto fibers, they altered the spiritual landscape in ways that are perhaps less tangible toWestern scholarly inquiry but no less significant to investigating these individuals' influence on the tiny archipelago in which they found themselves. Uncovering these multiple layers of meaning requires imagining the archive in an expansive, speculative way that moves beyond certain narratives of the documentary record to a fuller consideration of the process of making place in an early modern Atlantic colony.

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