Catalogue


Unbecoming British : how revolutionary America became a postcolonial nation /
Kariann Akemi Yokota.
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2011.
description
xii, 354 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0195393422 (Cloth), 9780195393422 (Cloth)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2011.
isbn
0195393422 (Cloth)
9780195393422 (Cloth)
catalogue key
8582617
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2012-11-01:
In her extensively researched and well-written book that will inspire, inform, and even entertain scholars across disciplines, Yokota (Yale) breaks new ground by applying perspectives derived from postcolonial thought. Building upon Richard Bushman's The Refinement of America (CH, Mar'93, 30-4004) and T. H. Breen's Marketplace of Revolution (2004), she explores the tensions created by the coexistence of two ambitions: to be genteel and to be American. The story unfolds through fascinating discussions of Jedidiah Morse's mapmaking, the politics of tea and the tea trade, and the China trade. The book teaches that the new nation existed within a global, political, and cultural frame, and concludes by wrestling with issues raised by US exceptionalism, both in the early republic and by contemporary scholars. The author states that "elite Americans' aspirations to civilization became whiteness, the foundational symbol of belonging" for their postcolonial nation. Except in notes and bibliography, Yokota never mentions much less interrogates how the words "republican" and "republicanism" relate to Americans' self-image or status as a postcolonial nation. This notable silence does not vitiate the book's must-read status. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels/libraries. L. L. Stevenson Franklin & Marshall College
Reviews
Review Quotes
"An important and sensitive study of the efforts of postcolonial Americans in the decades immediately following independence to become a cultivated and respectable nation. Kariann Yokota imaginatively uses maps, geographies, botanical studies, British consumer goods, and other particulars to document the arduous struggles of a people who so recently thought of themselves as British to become truly independent. It's an extraordinary work of cultural history."-Gordon S. Wood, author ofEmpire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 "This entrancing meditation on post-Revolutionary America's pursuit of cultural independence examines the perplexities of cutting loose from the nation that for two centuries had set the standards of civilization for the colonies. Unbecoming British traces this struggle through published geographies, imports of genteel goods, the China trade, natural history and medicine, and the creation of racial identity. There is no more far-reaching or penetrating survey of post-colonial American nationalism than this."-Richard Bushman, author ofThe Refinement of America: Persons, Houses,Cities "Convincing, thought-provoking, and tremendously original,Unbecoming Britishcaptures exquisitely the ambivalence of the post-revolutionary United States. An exquisite book-a landmark work that defines an area of inquiry, and even a cultural formation, that was right under our noses if only we had noticed. It does what the best works of cultural history do best: suddenly so many episodes, persons, artifacts, and expressions seem more interesting, and comprehensible."-David Waldstreicher, Temple University "Remarkably learned across disciplines and continents, this boldly argued study lets us see the post-revolutionary United States anew. Struggling to make and have things the world would not ridicule, and seeking to purchase civilization even during moments of nationalist fervor, the Founding Fathers shopped for approval in China, Scotland, France, Germany, and, with considerable pathos, in London. Yokota delivers brilliantly on the promises of transnational history."-David Roediger,How Race Survived U.S. History
"In her extensively researched and well-written book that will inspire, inform, and even entertain scholars across disciplines, Yokota breaks new ground by applying perspectives derived from postcolonial thought. Highly recommended." --CHOICE "An important and sensitive study of the efforts of postcolonial Americans in the decades immediately following independence to become a cultivated and respectable nation. Kariann Yokota imaginatively uses maps, geographies, botanical studies, British consumer goods, and other particulars to document the arduous struggles of a people who so recently thought of themselves as British to become truly independent. It's an extraordinary work of cultural history."-Gordon S. Wood, author ofEmpire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 "This entrancing meditation on post-Revolutionary America's pursuit of cultural independence examines the perplexities of cutting loose from the nation that for two centuries had set the standards of civilization for the colonies. Unbecoming British traces this struggle through published geographies, imports of genteel goods, the China trade, natural history and medicine, and the creation of racial identity. There is no more far-reaching or penetrating survey of post-colonial American nationalism than this."-Richard Bushman, author ofThe Refinement of America: Persons, Houses,Cities "Convincing, thought-provoking, and tremendously original,Unbecoming Britishcaptures exquisitely the ambivalence of the post-revolutionary United States. An exquisite book-a landmark work that defines an area of inquiry, and even a cultural formation, that was right under our noses if only we had noticed. It does what the best works of cultural history do best: suddenly so many episodes, persons, artifacts, and expressions seem more interesting, and comprehensible."-David Waldstreicher, Temple University "Remarkably learned across disciplines and continents, this boldly argued study lets us see the post-revolutionary United States anew. Struggling to make and have things the world would not ridicule, and seeking to purchase civilization even during moments of nationalist fervor, the Founding Fathers shopped for approval in China, Scotland, France, Germany, and, with considerable pathos, in London. Yokota delivers brilliantly on the promises of transnational history."-David Roediger,How Race Survived U.S. History
"Novel and engagingELIt emphasizes the ambivalent relationship of Americans toward Britain and their continued dependence upon Britain. Unbecoming British is written without jargon, making it very suitable both for class adoption and interested lay readers." --Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, American Historical Review "Yokota's far-reaching reconsideration of the raw materials Americans proffered global markets, including the knowledge economy, offers a fresh perspective that should alter the questions authors in her wake ask about transatlantic resonance and implications of objects in their own fields of vision." --William and Mary Quarterly "Unbecoming British is an excellent addition to the important research on collective American identity. In this interdisciplinary transatlantic study, Kariann Akemi Yokota carefully examines how Americans transformed from a colonial British identity to an independent American identity." --Journal of American History "In her extensively researched and well-written book that will inspire, inform, and even entertain scholars across disciplines, Yokota breaks new ground by applying perspectives derived from postcolonial thought. Highly recommended." --CHOICE "An important and sensitive study of the efforts of postcolonial Americans in the decades immediately following independence to become a cultivated and respectable nation. Kariann Yokota imaginatively uses maps, geographies, botanical studies, British consumer goods, and other particulars to document the arduous struggles of a people who so recently thought of themselves as British to become truly independent. It's an extraordinary work of cultural history."-Gordon S. Wood, author of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 "This entrancing meditation on post-Revolutionary America's pursuit of cultural independence examines the perplexities of cutting loose from the nation that for two centuries had set the standards of civilization for the colonies. Unbecoming British traces this struggle through published geographies, imports of genteel goods, the China trade, natural history and medicine, and the creation of racial identity. There is no more far-reaching or penetrating survey of post-colonial American nationalism than this."-Richard Bushman, author of The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities "Convincing, thought-provoking, and tremendously original, Unbecoming British captures exquisitely the ambivalence of the post-revolutionary United States. An exquisite book-a landmark work that defines an area of inquiry, and even a cultural formation, that was right under our noses if only we had noticed. It does what the best works of cultural history do best: suddenly so many episodes, persons, artifacts, and expressions seem more interesting, and comprehensible."-David Waldstreicher, Temple University "Remarkably learned across disciplines and continents, this boldly argued study lets us see the post-revolutionary United States anew. Struggling to make and have things the world would not ridicule, and seeking to purchase civilization even during moments of nationalist fervor, the Founding Fathers shopped for approval in China, Scotland, France, Germany, and, with considerable pathos, in London. Yokota delivers brilliantly on the promises of transnational history."-David Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History "Unbecoming British is an excellent addition to the important research on collective American identity." Journal of American History
"Unbecoming British is an excellent addition to the important research on collective American identity. In this interdisciplinary transatlantic study, Kariann Akemi Yokota carefully examines how Americans transformed from a colonial British identity to an independent American identity." --Journal of American History "In her extensively researched and well-written book that will inspire, inform, and even entertain scholars across disciplines, Yokota breaks new ground by applying perspectives derived from postcolonial thought. Highly recommended." --CHOICE "An important and sensitive study of the efforts of postcolonial Americans in the decades immediately following independence to become a cultivated and respectable nation. Kariann Yokota imaginatively uses maps, geographies, botanical studies, British consumer goods, and other particulars to document the arduous struggles of a people who so recently thought of themselves as British to become truly independent. It's an extraordinary work of cultural history."-Gordon S. Wood, author of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 "This entrancing meditation on post-Revolutionary America's pursuit of cultural independence examines the perplexities of cutting loose from the nation that for two centuries had set the standards of civilization for the colonies. Unbecoming British traces this struggle through published geographies, imports of genteel goods, the China trade, natural history and medicine, and the creation of racial identity. There is no more far-reaching or penetrating survey of post-colonial American nationalism than this."-Richard Bushman, author of The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities "Convincing, thought-provoking, and tremendously original, Unbecoming British captures exquisitely the ambivalence of the post-revolutionary United States. An exquisite book-a landmark work that defines an area of inquiry, and even a cultural formation, that was right under our noses if only we had noticed. It does what the best works of cultural history do best: suddenly so many episodes, persons, artifacts, and expressions seem more interesting, and comprehensible."-David Waldstreicher, Temple University "Remarkably learned across disciplines and continents, this boldly argued study lets us see the post-revolutionary United States anew. Struggling to make and have things the world would not ridicule, and seeking to purchase civilization even during moments of nationalist fervor, the Founding Fathers shopped for approval in China, Scotland, France, Germany, and, with considerable pathos, in London. Yokota delivers brilliantly on the promises of transnational history."-David Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History "Unbecoming British is an excellent addition to the important research on collective American identity." Journal of American History
[Yokota] argues provocatively that national independence put elite Americans in a bind ... [she] provides a strikingly original discussion of map-making in the new republic.
"Yokota's far-reaching reconsideration of the raw materials Americans proffered global markets, including the knowledge economy, offers a fresh perspective that should alter the questions authors in her wake ask about transatlantic resonance and implications of objects in their own fields of vision." --William and Mary Quarterly "Unbecoming British is an excellent addition to the important research on collective American identity. In this interdisciplinary transatlantic study, Kariann Akemi Yokota carefully examines how Americans transformed from a colonial British identity to an independent American identity." --Journal of American History "In her extensively researched and well-written book that will inspire, inform, and even entertain scholars across disciplines, Yokota breaks new ground by applying perspectives derived from postcolonial thought. Highly recommended." --CHOICE "An important and sensitive study of the efforts of postcolonial Americans in the decades immediately following independence to become a cultivated and respectable nation. Kariann Yokota imaginatively uses maps, geographies, botanical studies, British consumer goods, and other particulars to document the arduous struggles of a people who so recently thought of themselves as British to become truly independent. It's an extraordinary work of cultural history."-Gordon S. Wood, author of Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 "This entrancing meditation on post-Revolutionary America's pursuit of cultural independence examines the perplexities of cutting loose from the nation that for two centuries had set the standards of civilization for the colonies. Unbecoming British traces this struggle through published geographies, imports of genteel goods, the China trade, natural history and medicine, and the creation of racial identity. There is no more far-reaching or penetrating survey of post-colonial American nationalism than this."-Richard Bushman, author of The Refinement of America: Persons, Houses, Cities "Convincing, thought-provoking, and tremendously original, Unbecoming British captures exquisitely the ambivalence of the post-revolutionary United States. An exquisite book-a landmark work that defines an area of inquiry, and even a cultural formation, that was right under our noses if only we had noticed. It does what the best works of cultural history do best: suddenly so many episodes, persons, artifacts, and expressions seem more interesting, and comprehensible."-David Waldstreicher, Temple University "Remarkably learned across disciplines and continents, this boldly argued study lets us see the post-revolutionary United States anew. Struggling to make and have things the world would not ridicule, and seeking to purchase civilization even during moments of nationalist fervor, the Founding Fathers shopped for approval in China, Scotland, France, Germany, and, with considerable pathos, in London. Yokota delivers brilliantly on the promises of transnational history."-David Roediger, How Race Survived U.S. History "Unbecoming British is an excellent addition to the important research on collective American identity." Journal of American History
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, November 2012
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
What can textiles, teapots, quince jam - and a moose carcass that Thomas Jefferson had shipped to France - reveal about the formation of early US national identity? Kariann Yokota combines a rigorous examination of material objects with insights from postcolonial theory.
Long Description
What can textiles, teapots, quince jam-and a moose carcass that Thomas Jefferson had shipped to France-reveal about the formation of early US national identity? In this wide-ranging and original study, Kariann Yokota combines a rigorous examination of material objects with insights from postcolonial theory to propose a bold new interpretation of American history. Although independence from Britain entailed certain freedoms, it also fueled, among the Founding Fathers and other post-colonial creole elites, anxieties about cultural inferiority and race. Caught between their desire to emulate " Europe and an awareness that they lived at the periphery of the civilized world, they went to great lengths to convince themselves and others of their refinement. And yet they had to rely on Britain and China to supply their patriotictableware, European cartographers who had never set foot in the Americas for their maps, and industrial spies to help establish American manufactures. In the eyes of contemporary diarists, travelers, scientists, and collectors, both American and European, the post-revolutionary elite exhibited a certain backwardness andgullibility: why else would they purchase out-of-fashion silk or pay for shipments of broken housewares? But what really distinguished the new nation, according to these observers, were its unlimited natural resources, the widespread presence of slavery, and non-white societies alternately viewed as " and " Yokota examines a wealth of evidence from the fields of geography, decorative arts, intellectual history and technology to suggest that the process of Unbecoming British was not an easy one. Far from having its footing or its future secure, the new nation struggled to define itself economically, politically and culturally in the years between the first and the second American revolution, the War of 1812. Out of this confusion of hope and exploitation, insecurity and vision, emerged a uniquelyAmerican national identity.
Main Description
What can homespun cloth, stuffed birds, quince jelly, and ginseng reveal about the formation of early American national identity? In this wide-ranging and bold new interpretation of American history and its Founding Fathers, Kariann Akemi Yokota shows that political independence from Britain fueled anxieties among the Americans about their cultural inferiority and continuing dependence on the mother country. Caught between their desire to emulate the mother country and an awareness that they lived an ocean away on the periphery of the known world, they went to great lengths to convince themselves and others of their refinement. Taking a transnational approach to American history, Yokota examines a wealth of evidence from geography, the decorative arts, intellectual history, science, and technology to underscore that the process of "unbecoming British" was not an easy one. Indeed, the new nation struggled to define itself economically, politically, and culturally in what could be called America's postcolonial period. Out of this confusion of hope and exploitation, insecurity and vision, a uniquely American identity emerged.
Main Description
What can textiles, teapots, quince jam-and a moose carcass that Thomas Jefferson had shipped to France-reveal about the formation of early US national identity? In this wide-ranging and original study, Kariann Yokota combines a rigorous examination of material objects with insights frompostcolonial theory to propose a bold new interpretation of American history. Although independence from Britain entailed certain freedoms, it also fueled, among the Founding Fathers and other post-colonial creole elites, anxieties about cultural inferiority and race. Caught between their desire to emulate "civilized" Europe and an awareness that they lived at the peripheryof the civilized world, they went to great lengths to convince themselves and others of their refinement. And yet they had to rely on Britain and China to supply their patriotic tableware, European cartographers who had never set foot in the Americas for their maps, and industrial spies to helpestablish American manufactures. In the eyes of contemporary diarists, travelers, scientists, and collectors, both American and European, the post-revolutionary elite exhibited a certain backwardness and gullibility: why else would they purchase out-of-fashion silk or pay for shipments of brokenhousewares? But what really distinguished the new nation, according to these observers, were its unlimited natural resources, the widespread presence of slavery, and non-white societies alternately viewed as "savage" and "noble." Yokota examines a wealth of evidence from the fields of geography, decorative arts, intellectual history and technology to suggest that the process of Unbecoming British was not an easy one. Far from having its footing or its future secure, the new nation struggled to define itself economically,politically and culturally in the years between the first and the second American revolution, the War of 1812. Out of this confusion of hope and exploitation, insecurity and vision, emerged a uniquely American national identity.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nationp. 3
A New Nation on the Margins of the Global Mapp. 19
A Culture of Insecurity: Americans in a Transatlantic World of Goodsp. 62
A Revolution Revived: American and British Encounters in Canton, Chinap. 115
Sowing the Seeds of Postcolonial Discontent: The Transatlantic Exchange of American Nature and BritishPatronagep. 153
"A Great Curiosity": The American Quest for Racial Refinement and Knowledgep. 192
Conclusion The Long Goodbye: Breaking with the British in Nineteenth-century Americap. 226
Notesp. 243
Indexp. 343
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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