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Selling the Amish

The Tourism of Nostalgia

Susan L. Trollinger

Publication Year: 2012

More than 19 million tourists flock to Amish Country each year, drawn by the opportunity to glimpse "a better time" and the quaint beauty of picturesque farmland and handcrafted quilts. What they may find, however, are elaborately themed town centers, outlet malls, or even a water park. Susan L. Trollinger explores this puzzling incongruity, showing that Amish tourism is anything but plain and simple. Selling the Amish takes readers on a virtual tour of three such tourist destinations in Ohio’s Amish Country, the world’s largest Amish settlement. Trollinger examines the visual rhetoric of these uniquely themed places—their architecture, interior decor, even their merchandise and souvenirs—and explains how these features create a setting and a story that brings tourists back year after year. This compelling story is, Trollinger argues, in part legitimized by the Amish themselves. To Americans faced with anxieties about modern life, being near the Amish way of life is comforting. The Amish seem to have escaped the rush of contemporary life, the confusion of gender relations, and the loss of ethnic heritage. While the Amish way supports the idealized experience of these tourist destinations, it also raises powerful questions. Tourists may want a life uncomplicated by technology, but would they be willing to drive around in horse-drawn buggies in order to achieve it? Trollinger's answers to important questions in her fascinating study of Amish Country tourism are sure to challenge readers’ understanding of this surprising cultural phenomenon.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

During the more than fifteen years that I have been researching and writing this book, I have accumulated many debts of gratitude for the assistance given to me. Among the helpful persons in the Holmes County settlement...

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pp. xiii-xxii

On a hot summer afternoon some years ago, I witnessed a bewildering event. I was sitting on a bench outside a snack shop on Main Street in Intercourse, Pennsylvania, with friends. We were taking a break from browsing..

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CHAPTER 1. Who Are the Amish?

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pp. 3-24

By now, most Americans know something about the Amish. They know that the Amish are a distinctive religious sect whose members wear plain clothes, drive horse-drawn buggies, and have peculiar views about violence and forgiveness. Americans are familiar with these aspects of Amish...

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CHAPTER 2. Tourism in Amish Country

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pp. 25-46

The Amish remain a peculiar people. Most of them live in the heartland of the United States, yet in many ways they defy the very character of American culture. They resist much of its wisdom, challenge some of...

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CHAPTER 3. Time and Gender in Walnut Creek

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pp. 47-82

In 1970 the first Amish-style restaurant to open its doors in what would become Ohio’s Amish Country was Der Dutchman.1 For more than two decades, Der Dutchman drew a modest number of guests to its seventy-five...

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CHAPTER 4. Technology and Innocence in Berlin

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pp. 83-116

Berlin is the busiest tourist town in Ohio’s Amish Country. With a newly rebuilt grocery / dry goods / hardware store that brings many Amish...

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CHAPTER 5. Ethnicity and Performance in Sugarcreek

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pp. 117-140

Late in 1882, the tracks of the Conotton Valley Railway were laid in the Sugarcreek Valley. Within a decade, the town of Sugarcreek emerged and quickly became a center of business and industry. Over the course of a century, factories that manufactured brooms, wooden handles, and hand...

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CHAPTER 6. Nostalgia and the Power of Amish Witness

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pp. 141-150

Amish Country tourism attracts more than 19 million people every year and generates over $2 billion of economic benefit to the areas surrounding the three largest Amish settlements in the world, those in Pennsylvania...


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pp. 151-178


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pp. 179-186


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pp. 187-193

E-ISBN-13: 9781421404677
E-ISBN-10: 1421404672
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421404196
Print-ISBN-10: 1421404192

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 16 halftones, 4 maps
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 793012713
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Selling the Amish

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Heritage tourism -- Ohio -- Amish Country.
  • Public opinion -- Ohio -- Amish Country.
  • Amish -- Ohio -- Amish Country -- Public opinion.
  • Mennonite architecture -- Ohio -- Amish Country.
  • Amish Country (Ohio) -- Description and travel.
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