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The Road From Big Rock Candy Mountain: Boomsurfer Strategies in the American West

Author(s): Margaret Purser

Year: 2015

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People living across the broader West struggled for over a century to deal with both economic and ecological instability and unpredictability.  Developing industrial capitalism fluctuated radically in this period, especially in a region where its large-scale extractive industries voraciously exploited environments that were often already fragile and marginal for large-scale settlement.  For at least some sector of the population, responses to these challenges tended to emphasize stability and predictability, rather than "success" or "profit" in any conventional sense. Material culture played a key role in these "boomsurfer" strategies, not just in directly technological or economic ways, but also in defining and sustaining the complex networks of reciprocity and social capital that formed their foundation.  As a model, the "boomsurfer" construct can thus provide a powerful tool for integrating a historical archaeology of the West across a range of analytical scales from individual sites to the region as a whole. 

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The Road From Big Rock Candy Mountain: Boomsurfer Strategies in the American West. Margaret Purser. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Seattle, Washington. 2015 ( tDAR id: 433716)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 60

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America