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Title: Past the End of the Road: Aesthetic senses of place along Kachemak Bay, Alaska
Authors: Bradley, Hannah
Advisors: LedermanRouse, RenaCarolyn
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Keywords: Aesthetics
Sensory ethnography
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Environmental studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This ethnography describes the social relationships in and with the landscape of Fox River, at the Head of Kachemak Bay, near Homer, Alaska. This area is a Critical Habitat Area, a grazing lease for the local Cattlemen’s Association, and a trail corridor leading to private homesteads. Residents realize and reaffirm aesthetic ideals related to landscape views, cowboy culture, and homesteader lifestyles, through local practices of viewing and narration. Through examining cowboy poetry, reality television, animal husbandry, trail use, and bureaucratic management structures of the landowners and land users in Fox River, I show how both aesthetic ideals and engagement with the landscape itself shape knowledge politics, further tracing the development of settler colonial senses of belonging and entitlement. I extend the anthropological use of aesthetics to include an ecological sense of unity with environment, after Gregory Bateson. Cattlemen and other users of the Fox River Flats gain embodied forms of knowledge through moving cattle, travelling trails, and engaging with color patterns in the environment. In the management of the grazing lease, and of the trails across the Critical Habitat Area, state land managers’ authority conflicts with others’ aesthetic relationships to landscape, knowledges and time scales not legible to bureaucratic evidentiary regimes. The history of the nearby “Barefooters” community, as well as ongoing mysticisims of inherent “vibrations” or “energy” at the Head of Kachemak Bay, question the possibility of sensing special qualities in landscapes. The evidentiary regime of historical trail designation in Alaska, typified by the case of the King County Mine Trail and underlain Dena’ina routes, further show the limits of what knowledge, intuition, and time scales can be accepted as evidence in settler colonial land management structures.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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