Religion, Gender, and Kinship in Colonial New France

Lisa Poirier
March 09, 2017

Religion, Gender, and Kinship in Colonial New France

By: Lisa Poirier, Department of Religious Studies

The cultural upheavals of early colonial New France were experienced differently by French explorers and settlers, and by Native traditionalists and Catholic converts. However, European invaders and indigenous people alike learned to negotiate the complexities of cross-cultural encounters by reimagining the meaning of kinship. Part micro-history, part biography, this book explores the ways in which Etienne Brulé, Joseph Chihoatenhwa, Thérèse Oionhaton, and Marie Rollet Hébert created new religious orientations and developed crucial relationships in order to build intercultural communities that would enable them to survive the most pressing challenges of their time. In the lives of these Native and French men and women, the religious creativity inherent in relationship-building is illuminated.

Religion, Gender, and Kinship in Colonial New France

(Image courtesy of Syracuse University Press)

What makes your book or chapter different or unique from others in the same genre?

This book examines crucial moments in the colonization of New France and argues new religious orientations emerged as products of the material and symbolic exchanges that occurred between French and Native peoples. The author identifies women's roles in reimagining kinship as a successful strategy in creating intercultural relationships. The analysis contributes to larger conversations in history of religions about gender, intercultural exchange, and the emergence of new religious movements in the liminal period prior to the implantation of French and British settler colonialism.

About the author: 

Lisa J.M. Poirier is an assistant professor of religious studies at DePaul. She teaches and conducts research in the history of religions, specializing in religions of the Americas in general, and Native American religions in particular. She earned her Ph.D. in religion from Syracuse University. Her research focuses on colonial encounters between Europeans and Native peoples in the Americas, and is particularly interested in the Native American new religious movements that emerged in the contexts of these encounters.

Publisher, publication date, length:

Syracuse University Press, October 2016, 256 pages​

University Library call number:

971.31701 P753r2016

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