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"The Art of Serving is With Them Innate": Hunting, Fishing, and Independence in the Post-Emancipation South, 1865-1920

Giltner, Scott Edward (2005) "The Art of Serving is With Them Innate": Hunting, Fishing, and Independence in the Post-Emancipation South, 1865-1920. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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AbstractThis dissertation argues that hunting and fishing became central battlegrounds in the struggle over African-American independence between the end of the Civil War and the 1920s. Throughout that period, those deeply-rooted black cultural traditions, carried through centuries of bondage and further developed after 1865, remained important weapons in African Americans' fight to control their own lives and labor. Drawing on narratives of former slaves, sportsmen's recollections, records of fish and game clubs and resorts and sporting periodicals, I show that former slaves used hunting and fishing to reduce their dependence on agricultural labor in the service of whites and maximize their freedom. Because they reflected both symbolic and real African-American independence, hunting and fishing became central targets of white efforts to more firmly draw the racial line and protect their own economic and sporting interests. My project contributes to Southern and African-American historiography by illuminating the overlooked connection between hunting and fishing and the evolution of the Southern racial divide. I show that African Americans' right to hunt and fish became real and perceived sources of labor intractability, establish the importance of African Americans to a Southern sporting tourism industry dependent upon the physical and symbolic presence of subordinated former slaves, and expose fear of black independence as an overlooked motive in the rise of the Southern conservation movement. I thus broaden our understanding of late nineteenth and early twentieth century Southern life by showing how African Americans cultivated long-cherished survival mechanisms to meet the changing conditions of freedom. In doing so I clarify how a coalition of whites worked to circumscribe black subsistence for their own ends and illustrate how hunting and fishing played a key role in both processes.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Giltner, Scott
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHall, Van Beckvanbeck@pitt.eduVANBECK
Committee MemberBlee, Kathleenkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberRediker, Marcusred1@pitt.eduRED1
Committee MemberDrescher, Seymoursyd@pitt.eduSYD
Date: 10 October 2005
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 29 July 2005
Approval Date: 10 October 2005
Submission Date: 18 July 2005
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conservation; Fish and game law; Sportsmen; Tourism; Wildlife
Other ID:, etd-07182005-121340
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:51
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:46


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