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A Geography of Culture and Place across America

edited by Richard L. Nostrand and Lawrence E. Estaville

Publication Year: 2001

What does it mean to be from somewhere? If most people in the United States are "from some place else" what is an American homeland? In answering these questions, the contributors to Homelands: A Geography of Culture and Place across America offer a geographical vision of territory and the formation of discrete communities in the U.S. today. Homelands discusses groups such as the Yankees in New England, Old Order Amish in Ohio, African Americans in the plantation South, Navajos in the Southwest, Russians in California, and several other peoples and places. Homelands explores the connection of people and place by showing how aspects of several different North American groups found their niche and created a homeland. A collection of fifteen essays, Homelands is an innovative look at geographical concepts in community settings. It is also an exploration of the academic work taking place about homelands and their people, of how factors such as culture, settlement, and cartographic concepts come together in American sociology. There is much not only to study but also to celebrate about American homelands. As the editors state, "Underlying today's pluralistic society are homelands—large and small, strong and weak—that endure in some way. The mosaic of homelands to which people bonded in greater or lesser degrees, affirms in a holistic way America's diversity, its pluralistic society." The authors depict the cultural effects of immigrant settlement. The conviction that people need to participate in the life of the homeland to achieve their own self realization, within the traditions and comforts of that community. Homelands gives us a new map of the United States, a map drawn with people's lives and the land that is their home.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Series: Creating the North American Landscape


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pp. v-vi

List of Maps, Figures, and Tables

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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xii

This present volume contains the thoughts of many geographers who agree with us that the concept of the homeland needs our attention. We are much indebted to our authors, all geographers, who made possible this first extended yet far-from-definitive treatment of the concept of the homeland in the United States. In preparing this volume for publication we thank Lisa M. DeChano and Julie Henry of Southwest Texas State University for their technical ...

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Introduction: Free Land, Dry Land, Homeland

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pp. xiii-xxiii

Late in the evening of 12 July 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner read his seminal essay “The Significance of the Frontier in American History” (Turner 1920, 1–38). The historians assembled at a special meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago to hear Turner’s paper, the last of five read that evening, were so exhausted from the long day that the session adjourned without discussion. Only several years later did historians recognize the ...

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ONE: The New England Yankee Homeland

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pp. 1-23

H. L. Mencken found the term Yankee, first recorded in 1758, to be a derisive Dutch expression directed at English colonial yokels in Connecticut. In the 1760s Yankee spread rapidly to encompass plebeian New Englanders, and by the time of the Revolution it meant New England American and anti-British patriciate—and “Yankees began to take pride in it” (Mencken 1936, 111). ...

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TWO: The Pennsylvanian Homeland

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pp. 24-43

Early Europeans viewed the lower Delaware Valley as a place to be explored, exploited, and conquered. Dutchmen settled at Fort Nassau south of Philadelphia in 1623, and Swedes arrived in 1638. Swedish colonists soon occupied scattered settlements from Tinicum Island (near Philadelphia) south to Fort Chistiana (Wilmington). The Dutch occupied the remainder of the Delaware River ...

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THREE: Old Order Amish Homelands

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pp. 44-52

To understand Amish geography requires recognition of one primary constituent of their lives—community. Submersion of the individual within the group is a key ingredient for a happy successful Amish person. Among themselves the Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch and use various German words to convey ideas related to their common welfare, both spiritually and in a human sense. ...

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FOUR: Blacks in the Plantation South: Unique Homelands

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pp. 53-72

During the civil rights era (1954–72), Jerry Lewis, a well-known comedian, appeared on the Jack Paar Show. Fumbling for humor, Lewis remarked that, every time he was on an airplane that flew over Mississippi, he made a special effort to flush the toilet. Lewis’s intent was to suggest that white Mississippians, as racial bigots, should be defecated on. Letters of protest poured into ...

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FIVE: The Creole Coast: Homeland to Substrate

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pp. 73-82

Homelands, like all human undertakings, are not immutable. Change comes, though it differs from one homeland to another. Some evolve into independent nation-states, while others survive for millennia, yielding slowly and resistantly to the forces of assimilation. Still others—particularly in North America—perish after a relatively short lifespan. What happens when ...

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SIX: Nouvelle Acadie: The Cajun Homeland

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pp. 83-100

Over the years, the idea that the Cajuns, Louisiana’s Acadians, have been isolated from change has been advanced, reinforced, and disseminated to the American public and within the academic community. Contrary to this conventional view, it is proposed here, from an extensive search of the historical ...

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SEVEN: La Tierra Tejana: A South Texas Homeland

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pp. 101-124

South Texas is the Tejano (Texas Mexican) homeland. This region is part of a Texas-Mexican rimland where contiguous counties have populations that are more than half Mexican American. Thirty-three counties make up the homeland, a borderland subregion with 1.7 million people, 71 percent of whom are of Mexican origin (map 7.1). ...

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EIGHT: The Anglo-Texan Homeland

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pp. 125-138

A homeland, to me, is a region long inhabited by a self-conscious group exercising some measure of social, economic, and political control over the territory while at the same time not enjoying or even seeking full independence. The group exhibits a strong sense of attachment to the region and has created special, venerated places that symbolize and celebrate their identity. ...

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NINE: The Kiowa Homeland in Oklahoma

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pp. 139-154

The earliest place where the Kiowas are known to have lived is the northern Rocky Mountains, near the headwaters of the Yellowstone and Missouri rivers. Unlike Cheyennes and Arapahoes, Kiowas have no memory of ever having been an agricultural people. Sometime prior to 1700, the tribe moved east out of the mountains into the Black Hills area. About this same time, they acquired ...

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TEN: The Highland-Hispano Homeland

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pp. 155-167

The quincentennial celebration of Christopher Columbus’s encounter with the New World in 1992 reminded many in the United States of the major role Spaniards played in our history. Spaniards initiated the permanent European colonization of the United States—in Florida in 1565 and in New Mexico in 1598. In the 1700s they added present-day Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, and California to Spain’s colonial empire. Events in the 1800s forced Spain ...

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ELEVEN: The Navajo Homeland

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pp. 168-183

The Navajo ([T’áá] Diné[’é], [Just] the People, or Naabeehó [Diné’é]) are an Apachean-speaking people, the large majority of whom currently reside on and near one major reservation and its smaller satellites in northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah. The area of Navajo occupance is over 24,000 square miles and exceeds the size of West Virginia. ...

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TWELVE: Mormondom’s Deseret Homeland

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pp. 184-209

In the minds of most Americans, Utah long ago became synonymous with Mormons and Mormon Country—the heartland of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (and the home of the redoubtable “Polly Gamy”). In the minds of most members of this “worldwide church,” 85 percent of whom now live outside the Beehive State, Utah signifies Zion, if only as the headquarters of their religion. Almost a third of America’s “saints” still reside in Utah, and ...

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THIRTEEN: California’s Emerging Russian Homeland

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pp. 210-224

Russians in California’s Central Valley are a distinct group of people with a common past, a unifying folk culture, and a well-established religious belief system. They are defined in this analysis as Slavic Russians, not Jewish Russians, who identify themselves more often as “Jews” than “Russians.” Most Slavic Russians belong to the traditional Russian Orthodox Church or have ...

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FOURTEEN: Montana’s Emerging Montane Homeland

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pp. 225-237

Montana is a place that never was but always is—a fractious, undecided landscape where the essential point of living is to discover what kind of homeland it should become. Montanans share a visceral certainty that they are unique but do not agree on what they are; they live in a culture where, to paraphrase historian K. Ross Toole, “optimism outruns the facts” (Toole 1959, 247). ...

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FIFTEEN: American Homelands: A Dissenting View

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pp. 238-271

Homelands have made a dramatic comeback since 1990, both in the rhetoric of nationalism and as a concept in academic discourse. The reasons are complex, but the multiple effects of four recent changes in contemporary society appear to have encouraged it. The collapse of Soviet hegemony in eastern Europe and central Asia has opened the door to ethnic self-determination for ...


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pp. 273-306


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pp. 307-309


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pp. 311-318

E-ISBN-13: 9780801876608
E-ISBN-10: 0801876605
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801867002
Print-ISBN-10: 0801867002

Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 35 halftones, 30 line drawings
Publication Year: 2001

Series Title: Creating the North American Landscape
Series Editor Byline: Gregory Conniff, Edward K. Muller, and David Schuyler, Consulting Editors
George F. Thompson, Series Founder and Director See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 51481090
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Homelands

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • United States -- Description and travel.
  • Ethnicity -- United States -- History.
  • Immigrants -- United States -- History.
  • Minorities -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Civilization.
  • Human geography -- United States.
  • Regionalism -- United States -- History.
  • Place (Philosophy).
  • Cultural pluralism -- United States -- History.
  • United States -- Geography.
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