Prairie Patrimony. Family, Farming, and Community in the Midwest

Salamon, Sonya

Published by The University of North Carolina Press,, 1992
ISBN 10: 0807820458 / ISBN 13: 9780807820452
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Synopsis: Families cannot farm without land, and whoever controls land holds power over others in the farm family and the rural community. Yet in every lifetime, control of this scarce resource must be given up to the next generation. Drawing on her decade-long ethnographic studies of seven Illinois farming communities, Sonya Salamon demonstrates how family land transfers serve as the mechanism for recreating the social relations fundamental to Midwestern ethnic identities. With family land is passed a cultural patrimony that shapes practices of farm management, succession, and inheritance and that ultimately determine how land tenure and the personality of rural communities evolve. Half the communities Salamon studied are dominated by families of German descent and half by what she terms "Yankees, " or people with British Protestant ancestry. These two groups are dominant in the rural Midwest, and ethnic identity as manifested among them is a powerful force shaping the social fabric of the region. Yankees treat farming as a business and land as a commodity; profit rather than persistence of the farm motivates their actions. Farmers of German descent, however, see farming as a way of life and land as a sacred family possession, and they hold continuity of farm ownership as the highest priority. The commitment of ethnic Germans to act on their beliefs in this regard, says Salamon, explains why this group now makes up more than half of the Midwestern farm population.

Product Description: Prairie Patrimony consolidates, refines, advances and grounds recent scholarship that challenges familiar platitudes about family farming and rural life in the United States...No one should doubt the great contribution that Salamon has made to our understanding of American rural life.--American Studies "[Salamon's] approach yields a depth of information about farming culture not usually found in the literature on rural America."--Choice "Takes the reader on a cultural tour of a cherished American institution and landscape--midwestern farm families and their farms. With perceptive attention to detail and knowledge borne of first-hand study over many years, [Salamon] skillfully reveals the pervasive imprint of ethnicity...Prairie Patrimony represents one of those rare studies that enrich our social vision and understanding in extraordinary ways."--Glen H. Elder, Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "Salamon's book is a remarkable contribution to the study of agriculture and culture, and its cross-disciplinary approach will engage scholars in many areas. For historians, it is a splendid illustration that different behaviors between American and immigrant farmers, planted over a century ago in the Middle West, have endured to the present."--Jon Gjerde, University of California, Berkeley

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Title: Prairie Patrimony. Family, Farming, and ...
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press,
Publication Date: 1992

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