Deconstructing a Marginalized Identity Formation: What the Built Environment of Dogtown Can Tell Us About Its Past and About Its Present
Author(s): Elizabeth Martin
This study explores themes of identity construction by examining the historic community known as Dogtown located within the city of Gloucester, Massachusetts. The neighborhood was populated mainly by small English farming families until the end of the 18th century. At that time a demographic shift brought in more low-income, non-farming families and a group of aging, single women. While it seems likely that these residents were still treated as part of a larger, albeit somewhat different, element within Gloucester society at the time, a reconstruction of how the landscape has been manipulated over the centuries since shows that another narrative choice has been made. Where the forest had been tamed by grazing sheep and farmers building stone fences, it has now been allowed to grow into the wild environment that can be seen as a physical manifestation of the modern understanding of this group of outsiders called Dogtown’s witches. While their own communal identity is hard to know, one can ask questions about how the community has been constructed to appear to have been an outsider community and how this may relate to other constructions of outsider identity from the region.
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Deconstructing a Marginalized Identity Formation: What the Built Environment of Dogtown Can Tell Us About Its Past and About Its Present. Elizabeth Martin. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 436754)