"The 'Pre-Occupation of the American West": American Studies ASsociation 2014 Annual Meeting

full name / name of organization: 
Carrie Johnston
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Ethnography is inextricable from any narrative we might tell about
the development of the West at the turn of the twentieth century. The professionalization of anthropology played a key role in the describing and documenting a notion of vanishing cultures--in particular, Native American cultures--which, in turn, could be
marketed as tourist attractions. Salvage Ethnography (to use Jacob Gruber's term) was fundamental to creating a culturally rich image of the West, as well as to relaying a sense of urgency about visiting a rapidly changing landscape. As a result, the region's
indigenous populations were packaged as "pre-occupants," relics of an earlier, idyllic—but ultimately lost—period of U.S. history. This panel seeks to explore Anglo Americans' preoccupation with indigenous cultures as the West's earliest and vanishing "occupants,"
and the resulting manifestations of this fascination in popular culture, art, literature, photography, journalism, and/or cultural tourism. Please send abstracts to cjohnston@smu.edu and scordell@umich.edu by January 26.