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Between the Mythic and the Material: Texas Exceptionalism and Early Austin History

Author(s): Noel Harris

Year: 2017

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Summary

Popular histories portray the Republic of Texas capital city of Austin between 1839 and 1846 as a crude frontier town, characterized by Anglo-American heroism and material deprivation. By stressing these aspects of Republic-era life, such histories omit many facets of early Austin’s social history, including enslaved forced migration and individualism that diverge from this narrative. This research carefully examines extant objects, architecture, and primary source documents to suggest an alternate historical reading of early Austin’s cultural identity that contradicts the mythic identity of Texas exceptionalism. Material evidence belies the stoic acceptance of a handmade, hard-scrabble existence. Rather, this telling reflects an attempt to recreate established social institutions and material comforts through commercial trade and by the work of enslaved people, a narrative which broadens and complements popularly accepted notions of early Texas cultural identity. 


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Between the Mythic and the Material: Texas Exceptionalism and Early Austin History. Noel Harris. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435431)


Keywords

Temporal Keywords
1839-1846


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 384

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