Sponsored by: Archaeological Institute of America
From the early sixteenth century onwards, French, English, Spanish, and Basque fishing crews were drawn to the island of Newfoundland and the coast of Labrador (Canada), to harvest the vast stocks of cod, whales, and seals found there. Prevailing gendered notions of maritime employment meant that these crews were almost exclusively men, and so European colonization of Newfoundland and Labrador was largely a movement of males. Women formed a very small proportion of settler populations. The rarity of European female migration, and the choices made by Aboriginal peoples in engaging with these new arrivals had an immediate and sustained impact: many colonial men formed households in the virtual absence of women. This resulted in a re-purposing of normative masculine activities in unusual ways. Furthermore, the nature of European-Aboriginal interaction meant that the process of métissage leading to hybrid Aboriginal-European households would not emerge until the late eighteenth century (in Labrador.) Métissage and ethnogenesis can be fraught processes, and in this region, they only began centuries after the period of initial culture contact. This lecture will explore the demography of colonization in this North Atlantic region, the archaeology of colonial and Aboriginal landscapes, the gendered identities of men and women in settlements that were numerically dominated by men, and the (eventual) formation of new Aboriginal-European hybrid identities.
Articles on the English and French Newfoundland fisheries: