American University
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From farms to forests: The material life of an Appalachian landscape

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posted on 2023-09-06, 03:39 authored by Jodi A. Barnes

The landscape provides a lens to examine how struggles over the natural environment both create and express racial and classed ideologies and stereotypes in Appalachia over time. By tracing the material changes to a mountain landscape from farm to forest to a place of recreation as the Appalachian Trail (AT), I rewrite the history of Appalachia, particularly the stereotypes about white poverty and pristine nature. I take the present as a starting point and move back and forth in time (from 1800 to the present) to consider how power relations are materially constituted in the landscape. I 'tack' together documentary, oral historical, and archaeological data to examine the material lives of three individuals, Jesse Richeson, a white plantation owner, Moses Richeson, a mixed-race enslaved laborer and a landowner, and Eli Hughes, a tenant farmer, to understand how the history of struggles over land and labor shaped classed relations and the social construction of race. This research is about slavery, tenancy, displacement and the Appalachian Trail; it is also about social relations and the materiality and historicity of a place. Archaeology, with its focus on time and materiality, contributes to the study of the landscape, specifically a section of the Appalachian Trail, because it is a place whose creation is remembered and whose form and character we continue to influence in our everyday lives.



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Thesis (Ph.D.)--American University, 2008.


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