Diversity and Accommodation

Essays on the Cultural Composition of the Virginia Frontier

  • Author(s): Puglisi, Michael J.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 1997-06-16
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $46.00 | Buy Now

“An exciting new book that reveals both the diversity of Virginia’s Appalachian culture and that of the scholars working on it.”
—Daniel B. Thorp, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Focusing on the early Virginia frontier, the essays in Diversity and Accommodation stress the importance of cultural pluralism in backcountry society and the need to replace stereotypical images with realistic conclusions based on a detailed case-study approach.

The contributors to this collection argue that traditional views—of ethnic and cultural isolation, of German clannishness and Scots-Irish individualism—contain a kernel of truth but are far too restrictive and simplistic. While acknowledging that distinct ethnic and cultural groups did exist on the Virginia frontier and that their effect on the development and heritage of the region was significant, these scholars show that accommodation, adaptation, exchange, and coexistence among such groups played a more important part in the cultural dynamics of the area than previous studies have indicated.

Drawing on the methods and findings of various disciplines—including social history, archaeology, ethnic studies, and material culture studies—the essays encompass key aspects and phases of the Virginia frontier experience. Among the topics covered are the earliest trade relationships between English Virginians and the Native American societies, the impact of immigrants from Ulster and the Rhineland, the African American presence and the nature of slavery in the region, and the development of community ties in southwest Virginia. The final section examines the ways in which backcountry architecture reflected both the early settlers’ backgrounds as well as their adaptations to their new environment.

With their fresh insights and innovative analysis, the essays in Diversity and Accommodation make an important contribution to the growing body of scholarship on the role of the frontier and backcountry regions in American history.

The Editor: Michael J. Puglisi is associate dean of academic affairs at Marian College in Wisconsin and the author of Puritans Besieged: The Legacies of King Phillip’s War in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.