Henry Ford's idiosyncratic practice of ex-situ preservation resulted in the hybrid landscape of Greenfield Village, a collection of disparate buildings with perceived heritage value assembled on a single site in Dearborn, Michigan. This essay argues that the site is best understood as a dynamic system intended to produce a certain type of citizenship fitting Ford's own self-image: active, physical engagement with material culture in order to articulate and diffuse virtue. Greenfield Village's current identification as a tourist destination obscures both Ford's original intent for the site as a school based on hands-on pedagogy, and the way that the site still affords its various user groups the ability to construct historical narrative. The essay reads the site's eccentric historiography of the United States both as an analogue of literary projects of national portraiture and as a procedural rhetoric encouraging a way of living through performance in space. While Greenfield Village's original method is deeply tied to the racism and populism of its creator, its very flexibility affords today's users and proprietors the means to actively contest these biases and put forth new visions of history.


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pp. 94-111
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