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Taming the Wild Through Enclosure: Boundaries within the Pioneer Landscape

Author(s): Megan D. Postemski

Year: 2016

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Frontiers are often perceived as dangerous and harsh peripheries pioneers adapted to, or replete with resources and ripe for settlement. Based on accounts of environmental stress and warfare in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the former perception pervades depictions of the Eastern frontier. To distinguish notions of frontier life from actual lived experiences of pioneers, I analyze enclosure – the continuous bounding and cultivation of the landscape – which structured frontier life. Enclosure manifests in physical landscape features (e.g., stone walls, fences, and fields) reflecting deeds and maps, but also pioneer ideals and agency. By examining enclosure in the historical landscape, I demonstrate how Eastern frontier settlement facilitated and mirrored town development. I assess tax valuations, historical maps, and other data to compare enclosure on the Downeast Maine frontier with that in Massachusetts. A mature town provides a baseline for successful colonization to compare the process of frontier enclosure.

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Taming the Wild Through Enclosure: Boundaries within the Pioneer Landscape. Megan D. Postemski. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434849)


Temporal Keywords
18th-19th century

Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 480

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