Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation

ISBN : 9780190217877

Kariann Akemi Yokota
368 Pages
157 x 238 mm
Pub date
Jan 2015
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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.


Introduction: Unbecoming British: How Revolutionary America Became a Postcolonial Nation
Ch 1: A New Nation on the Margins of the Global Map
Ch 2: A Culture of Insecurity: Americans in a Transatlantic World of Goods
Ch 3: A Revolution Revived: American and British Encounters in Canton, China
Ch 4: Sowing the Seeds of Postcolonial Discontent: The Transatlantic Exchange of American Nature and British Patronage
Ch 5: "A Great Curiosity": The American Quest for Racial Refinement and Knowledge
Conclusion: The Long Goodbye: Breaking with the British in Nineteenth Century America

About the author: 

Kariann Akemi Yokota is Associate Professor of History at University of Colorado Denver.

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