This essay analyzes the American appropriation of an incident in the 1620s on the spice island of Ambonya in which several English traders were tortured (waterboarded) and executed by their Dutch rivals. The essay argues that New England authors imagine themselves the subject of anti-English violence half a world away in order to lay claim to a global English identity. The essay compares the visual representation of that East Indian violence with a well-known image of violence in New England, John Underhill’s figure of the Mystic Fort massacre of the Pequot War, arguing that the two images are linked intertextually. The two images anchor a particular history of torture that suggests how representations of violence are key elements of colonial fantasies that made (and make) real atrocities possible.

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