Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


Books

Unless otherwise indicated, all OI books are published and distributed by The University of North Carolina Press.


Captives and Cousins

Slavery, Kinship, and Community in the Southwest Borderlands

James Brooks

Cloth: 978-0-8078-2714-7 ($77.95)
Paper: 978-0-8078-5382-5 ($33.95)

Copyright 2002
University of North Carolina Press

A Prize-Winning Book

  • Bancroft Prize (2003)
  • Francis Parkman Prize, Society of American Historians (2003)
  • Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians (2003)
  • Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Book Award, American Society for Ethnohistory (2003)
  • W. Turrentine Jackson Award, Western History Association (2003)
  • Frederick Douglass Book Prize - Second Prize, Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition (2003)
  • Caroline Bancroft History Prize - Honor Book, Western History/Genealogy Department of the Denver Public Library (2003)

Description

This sweeping, richly evocative study examines the origins and legacies of a flourishing captive exchange economy within and among native American and Euramerican communities throughout the Southwest Borderlands from the Spanish colonial era to the end of the nineteenth century.

Indigenous and colonial traditions of capture, servitude, and kinship met and meshed in the borderlands, forming a "slave system" in which victims symbolized social wealth, performed services for their masters, and produced material goods under the threat of violence. Slave and livestock raiding and trading among Apaches, Comanches, Kiowas, Navajos, Utes, and Spaniards provided labor resources, redistributed wealth, and fostered kin connections that integrated disparate and antagonistic groups even as these practices renewed cycles of violence and warfare.

Always attentive to the corrosive effects of the "slave trade" on Indian and colonial societies, the book also explores slavery's centrality in intercultural trade, alliances, and "communities of interest" among groups often antagonistic to Spanish, Mexican, and American modernizing strategies. The extension of the moral and military campaigns of the American Civil War to the Southwest in a regional "war against slavery" brought differing forms of social stability but cost local communities much of their economic vitality and cultural flexibility.


About the Author

James F. Brooks is president and chief executive officer of the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is editor of Confounding the Color Line: The Indian-Black Experience in North America.


Reviews

This is a stunning book, likely to be controversial in its particulars. . . . A kaleidoscopic history, Captives and Cousins is a wonderfully specific study about New Mexico but full of big ideas that will illuminate other places at the margins of states and empires.

--Richard White


Bold and brilliant, James Brooks’s fresh look at raiding and slaving takes us beyond the familiar categories of Indians and Hispanics to reveal the deep divisions of gender and class within each group. Sweeping over four centuries, his vivid narrative tells us why people simultaneously preyed on one another and absorbed one another in this violent land.

--David J. Weber


James Brooks takes the sources seriously—including transcribed oral traditions, drawings, folklore, dances, pageants, and archaeology as well as Spanish written reports. In his argument, he stretches our understanding of the nature of colonial slavery and of the dynamic processes through which kin networks created new peoples. This beautifully written book makes it impossible for historians to ignore colonial relationships in the Southwest that began contemporaneously with Jamestown and Plymouth and developed throughout the colonial period.

--Karen Ordahl Kupperman


Brooks’s broad and ambitious interpretation of the Southwest is carefully argued in its details and is based on exhaustive research in Spanish-language archives. It is furthered bolstered by an impressive use of anthropology, especially the well-developed literature on African kinship slavery. . . . An innovative and truly important work. It will inform scholarship on early America and on borderlands regions for many years to come.

--William and Mary Quarterly


This evocative study explores the captive exchange economy and the interactions between slave, Native American, and Euramerican communities in the Southwest Borderlands.

--Civil War Book Review


From its first memorable sentences until its final words, Captives & Cousins will hold many of its readers hostage.

--Journal of American History


Offers a fresh and insightful new perspective. . . . A synthesis of borderlands history that is relevant not only for students of northern Mexico and the American West, but for all who are interested in the interconnections between slavery, race and ethnicity.

--American Studies


An interesting study of [a] little-known slave system. . . . Brooks illustrates the similarities of Spanish and Indian cultural traditions of capture, enslavement, adoption, and exploitation of outsiders, then examines the groups’ similar notions of honor, shame, and gender. . . . Reveal[s] [a] heretofore incompletely understood social and economic Southwest slave tradition.

--Choice


This is an extraordinary book based on an imaginative reading of the documentary record and a judicious use of anthropological theory. By weaving ritual, folklore, and individual stories together with legal, ecclesiastical, and statistical evidence, Brooks has produced a book that satisfies the heart as well as the mind.

--Theda Perdue, American Historical Review


I opened up this book and could not put it down. I was just knocked out by the fact that someone could be writing about slavery in such a new and totally fresh way that expands our horizons geographically and chronologically. It’s so rare that you get bowled over by a work in your own field.

--Scott McLemee, Chronicle of Higher Education


Brooks's broad and ambitious interpretation of the Southwest is carefully argued in its details and is based on exhaustive research in Spanish-language archives. It is furthered bolstered by an impressive use of anthropology, especially the well-developed literature on African kinship slavery. . . . An innovative and truly important work. It will inform scholarship on early America and on borderlands regions for many years to come.

--William and Mary Quarterly


[A] masterful, splendidly written book.

--Western Historical Quarterly


Captives and Cousins presents a creative rereading of the historiography that produces a new vision of slavery, kinship, and community; its fresh look at the sources leads to a completely new understanding of slavery in the region.

--Hispanic American Historical Review


From its first memorable sentences until its final words, Captives & Cousins will hold many of its readers hostage.

--Journal of American History


This evocative study explores the captive exchange economy and the interactions between slave, Native American, and Euramerican communities in the Southwest Borderlands.

--Civil War Book Review


Brooks tells this history with clarity and judiciousness.

--Journal of American History


This is an extraordinary book based on an imaginative reading of the documentary record and a judicious use of anthropological theory. By weaving ritual, folklore, and individual stories together with legal, ecclesiastical, and statistical evidence, Brooks has produced a book that satisfies the heart as well as the mind.

--Theda Perdue, American Historical Review


Offers a fresh and insightful new perspective. . . . A synthesis of borderlands history that is relevant not only for students of northern Mexico and the American West, but for all who are interested in the interconnections between slavery, race and ethnicity.

--American Studies


An interesting study of [a] little-known slave system. . . . Brooks illustrates the similarities of Spanish and Indian cultural traditions of capture, enslavement, adoption, and exploitation of outsiders, then examines the groups' similar notions of honor, shame, and gender. . . . Reveal[s] [a] heretofore incompletely understood social and economic Southwest slave tradition.

--Choice