Thinking Like a Mountain: The American Antiquities Act in Its Political and Ideological Milieu
*Designated as an exemplary master's project for 2015-16*The nucleus of this project is a text, the American Antiquities Act. It was the desire to understand this text more fully on its own terms that compelled me to begin asking questions like: “What can this document reveal about the historical moment from which it emerged?” “How does it bear witness to, and itself help to effect a fundamental shift in the way we think about the land we inhabit?“ What, in essence, is its intellectual and historical genealogy?” Today, the Antiquities Act may seem to be an uncomplicated reality, its raison d'etre self-evident and easily taken for granted; but it does not exist, nor was it created, in a vacuum. The Antiquities Act is a testament to the will of a society to reorient itself towards a new relationship with the natural world. In examining this reorientation, this project explores major historical influences that spurred the growth of conservationist ideals in the United States, highlighting key individuals in order to understand their motivations and trace the formation of their support for the Antiquities Act. Finally, it examines the document itself and discusses, in part, the legislative history and legacy of the act. As these inquiries demonstrate, the American Antiquities Act was not the inevitable outcome of any natural or inexorable processes at work in American culture or society. Rather, it represents a product of the confluence of specific political, philosophical, and societal energies that animated the Act’s historical context. It is these energies and their contexts that give the American Antiquities Act historical cogency.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Rights for Collection: Graduate Liberal Studies
Works are deposited here by their authors, and represent their research and opinions, not that of Duke University. Some materials and descriptions may include offensive content. More info