“Memory, Whiteness, and Opposition to National Heritage Areas”
In 2017, the infamous white supremacist ‘Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia began with a militant protest against removing a statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee. Despite their defense of memorials and monuments, many white, right-wing landowners fight against the expansion of National Heritage Areas (NHAs). NHAs, started in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan and administered through the National Park Service (NPS), provide federal funding to preserve historic areas composed of museums, monuments, statues, cemeteries, and other public memorials. This research examines resistance to NHAs by focusing on case studies in Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri, where rural communities oppose proposed and established NHAs, which they consider a federal land grab. My research uses ethnographic methods, archival, and social network analysis to explore both support and opposition to NHAs, the implications for cultural memory, and intersecting political movements.