Title

Good, by God, we're going to Bodie! Landscape and social memory in a California ghost town

Date of Award

1998

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Geography

Advisor(s)

James S. Duncan

Keywords

Bodie, California, Landscape, Social memory, Ghost town

Subject Categories

Geography

Abstract

The ghost town of Bodie, high in the desert of Eastern California, was once a thriving gold-mining town. Today, its ramshackle buildings, preserved in a state of "arrested decay," make it a popular tourist destination. In Bodie's powerfully suggestive landscape, visitors and staff alike experience the mythic West. This ethnographic study looks at how Bodie's landscape communicates narratives of progress from a primitive past, and how these narratives are a lived part of American social memory in this ghost town. Specifically the work examines how the concept of authenticity is communicated Bodie's landscape: both through presence and powerfully also through absence, and how the concept of authenticity enables Bodie's master narratives. The work also examines the methodological problems that when the researcher studies a community of which she is part.

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