This essay argues for a new methodological approach to the study of early modern European history. We call for heightened attention to what we term the material trace of peoples born on other continents and islands who traversed this region. Neither uniformly subaltern nor permanently alienated from Europe as foreigners, these extra-Europeans have suffered neglect in the construction of major historical narratives. We present three case studies deriving from the British and Habsburg empires: a converted “Turk” in Catholic Munich, a London parish shaped by its “black” inhabitants, and a conflated feathered figure symbolizing a fluid exotic. Using postcolonial, transimperial, and interdisciplinary techniques, we demonstrate how recalibrating research efforts can redefine the place of Europe within the broader world.

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