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Counting BodiesPopulation in Colonial American Writing$
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Molly Farrell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190277314

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277314.001.0001

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Counting in King Philip’s War

Counting in King Philip’s War

Chapter:
(p.127) Chapter 3 Counting in King Philip’s War
Source:
Counting Bodies
Author(s):

Molly Farrell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190277314.003.0004

Chapter Three argues that counting population numbers was central to the ways in which second-generation Anglo-Americans wrote about wars of territorial expansion. It shows how English settler colonials used population counts as a weapon against indigenous people, drawing on the authority of numerical language to efface indigenous claims to land and perspectives on history. Against Increase Mather’s triumphalist account of the war, Puritan Mary Rowlandson’s narrative of her experience as a captive vividly portrays both the necessity and the impossibility of waging a colonial war between cultures by attempting to count either side. In the context of wartime hostage-taking, Rowlandson’s attempts at early human accounting show how women and children pose a very real threat to framing war as a numerical competition. Unlike adult men, their bodies render them particularly vulnerable to becoming adopted as members of the enemy group.

Keywords:   Mary Rowlandson, Captivity, King Philip’s War, Increase Mather, Hannah Dustan, Population, Counting, Children

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