The Culture of Wilderness: Agriculture as Colonization in the American West / Edition 1

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Overview

In this innovative work of cultural and technological history, Frieda Knobloch describes how agriculture functioned as a colonizing force in the American West between 1862 and 1945. Using agricultural textbooks, USDA documents, and historical accounts of western settlement, she explores the implications of the premise that civilization progresses by bringing agriculture to wilderness. Her analysis is the first to place the trans-Mississippi West in the broad context of European and classical Roman agricultural history. Knobloch shows how western land, plants, animals, and people were subjugated in the name of cultivation and improvement. Illuminating the cultural significance of plows, livestock, trees, grasses, and even weeds, she demonstrates that discourse about agriculture portrays civilization as the emergence of a colonial, socially stratified, and bureaucratic culture from a primitive, feminine, and unruly wilderness. Specifically, Knobloch highlights the displacement of women from their historical role as food gatherers and producers and reveals how Native American land-use patterns functioned as a form of cultural resistance. Describing the professionalization of knowledge, Knobloch concludes that both social and biological diversity have suffered as a result of agricultural 'progress.'
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Offers anyone interested in American agriculture or the West a challenging and provocative study.

Technology and Culture

Knobloch has effectively debunked the arrogant assertions of those who helped colonize the West.

Pacific Northwest Quarterly

One of the many pleasant surprises of this exciting and ambitious book is how well Knobloch actually accomplishes her goals.

Journal of American History

This is a fascinating, well-written and researched book, that moves briskly, with a vigorous, well-supported narrative.

Western Historical Quarterly

Beautifully written, wonderfully provocative, and at the same time deeply informative.

John Mack Faragher, Yale University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807845851
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 12/16/1996
  • Series: Studies in Rural Culture Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 220
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Frieda Knobloch is assistant professor of history at St. Olaf College.
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Table of Contents


Contents

Preface Acknowledgments

Introduction/Abduction: Capturing a Poetics of Agricultural History
1 Trees
2 Plows
3 Grass
4 Weeds Epilogue: Just the Facts, Ma'am

Notes Bibliography Index

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