Homeliness and Worldliness: Materiality and the Making of New Netherland, 1609-1740

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Buis, Alena
New York , Material Culture , WIC , Exchange , New Netherland , Dutch
This study examines the role of things in the making of New Netherland in the seventeenth century and the formation of New York in the early eighteenth century. With an attention to the translations of form and transculturations of meaning for objects, which have often led peripatetic lives, I focus on previously marginalized crafts and everyday objects like books, tea tables, chairs, hearth tiles, and other domestic goods found in peoples’ homes, to describe the way things connected people and places in early modern Dutch trade networks. Through a careful analysis of objects of material culture and depictions of material culture I focus on how the colony was physically constructed and ideologically imagined internally by the colonists and externally by other interested parties throughout Atlantic world. My research on the making, circulation, and consumption of things in and from New Netherland develops intersecting narratives of the past, some of them regional and localized, others cross-cultural, transnational, and global. By connecting artifacts, objects, and things to larger narratives it is possible to write a new history of materiality and the making of New Netherland, primarily in the seventeenth century but also in later histories. In what follows, through the examination of increasingly mobile and hybrid material cultures in the Dutch Republic and New Netherland, I demonstrate that just like materialism and morality, worldliness and homeliness were not binary constructs, but mutually constructive and inextricably intertwined in the oud and nieuw Netherlands.
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