Long viewed as a tabula rasa, the deserts of the American West have played a distinct role in the projection of American cultural identities. Historically represented through fantasies of individualism, frontier ruggedness, and land acquisition, the desert is also the site of extreme social and environmental violence. The Invention of the American Desert brings together a wide-ranging group of interdisciplinary essays that explore, through diverse perspectives, dialectical problems posed by an environment that has served as a testing ground for modernist experimentation in art and architecture, military-industrial incursions, and ecological disasters throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In light of the urgent climate crisis and the planet’s increasing desertification, this volume reflects on the nature and legacy of the desert as a crucible for competing visions of land, environment, and art.
The Invention of the American Desert Art, Land, and the Politics of Environment
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