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Colony and Empire Review

Colony and Empire Review

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Published by: jmcknight481 on Jun 23, 2009
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06/22/2009

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Robbins, William G.
Colony and Empire: The Capitalist Transformation of the AmericanWest.
Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1994.William G. Robbins, in
Colony and Empire: the Capitalist Transformation of the American West 
, provides an extensive study of the role of capitalism in the AmericanWest. In a field that has been dominated by one theory for so long, Robbins not only portrays the “New Western History” theory, but also brings his ideals of the world-systems theory into his study. Frederick Jackson Turner’s,
The Significance of the Frontier in American History,
dominated the American West field of study for a century.It was not until the 1980’s that a new school of thought, the “New Western History,”came to the attention of scholars. Robbins capitalist transformation explanation steersclear of Turner’s thesis, that states a new America developed that was more democratic,less authoritarian, and less class conscious and his thesis is clearly stated throughout the book:“Inquiries into the political economy and systems of power and dependency arecentral to understanding historical change. There is no convincing alternative…toencounter with ideology, with the politics and economics of social and classrelations…with the all-embracing influence of capital as an agent of change.Those dynamics are part of the revolutionary world that is modern capitalism“(ix).Robbins uses his research to create an analysis between capitalism and itsrevolutionary consequences for the American West. He divides his book into three parts.The first part covers myth, ideology, and reality of the American West. It consist of chapters involving the interpretation of historical change, the United States-Mexican andthe United States-Canadian borderlands and the effects of capitalism in these areas. The1

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