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A European Turn in Early American History? A Discussion of Evan Haefeli's Accidental Pluralism: America and the Religious Politics of English Expansion, 1497-1662

Kaplan, B; Harris, T; Benecke, C; Te Brake, W; Haefeli, E; (2021) A European Turn in Early American History? A Discussion of Evan Haefeli's Accidental Pluralism: America and the Religious Politics of English Expansion, 1497-1662. Journal of Early American History 10.1163/18770703-11020010. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

From the nineteenth century onwards, Americans have naturalized their colonial origins into a consensual nationalist history, emphasizing America’s perceived role as a refuge for the persecuted, while smoothing out a myriad of complexities in the process. Evan Haefeli attempts to overturn the assumptions underpinning this narrative and is convinced that many important aspects of early America need to be understood within a broader European context. In Accidental Pluralism, he argues that the collapse of religious unity in England lies at the root of the emergence of pluralism in colonial America, in which he includes Canada and the Caribbean. Relationships among states, churches, and publics were contested from the earliest decades of colonization and created a pluralistic religious landscape that no one had anticipated. The four reviewers are fulsome in their praise, calling it an impressive, important, powerful, and sweeping book that few scholars could have written. The reviewers also raise questions, for instance by problematizing the incorporation of the colonial American dimension into early British history, criticizing the validity of the chosen end date, and questioning his definitions of diversity, pluralism, and religious toleration. In his response Evan Haefeli takes the opportunity to reflect on what drove him to write the book and to organize it in this way. He acknowledges that connecting early American history with its broader European context was more difficult than it should have been, as the dominant questions in the two historiographies are an ocean apart. While the argument of the book is aimed at early Americanists, Haefeli is grateful that the reviewers situate the story he tells within the broader early modern European history of toleration.

Type: Article
Title: A European Turn in Early American History? A Discussion of Evan Haefeli's Accidental Pluralism: America and the Religious Politics of English Expansion, 1497-1662
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1163/18770703-11020010
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1163/18770703-11020010
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: religious pluralism; religious tolerance; English Expansion
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10133480
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