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in Settler Colonial Studies
The dispossession at the core of the fur trade is barely perceptible, especially when recounted as part of the genesis narrative of British North American capitalism and state-formation. By focusing on the exploitation of Indigenous peoples’ labour by company traders, I make this dispossession more conspicuous, revealing it as neither a direct nor a uniform process, but rather fragmented and driven by a host of legal, economic, and geopolitical factors. To achieve this, dialectical materialism is the preferred mode of analysis. Such a perspective brings into relief the uneven and combined nature of legal and economic transformation, disclosing the inner dimensions of dispossession that are the principal legacy of the fur trade and British North American settler-colonialism alike. At stake in this study is not only a comprehensive account of the processes of dispossession, but also a commentary on the insidiousness of these processes – that is, an inside look at how customary reciprocity was distorted through exploitative practices that served of dispossession.