AMERICAN NATIONAL IDENTITY AND THE PROGRESS OF THE NEW SOUTH IN NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE*

Authors


  • *

    I would like to thank Colin Flint for his helpful suggestions on previous versions of this manuscript, the editors of this journal, and four anonymous reviewers, as well as Lorraine Dowler for providing the spark that began this project.

Abstract

ABSTRACT. This article examines how National Geographic Magazine's coverage of the U.S. South contributed to the production of an exalted American national identity. The framework of internal orientalism is employed to explain the role of the South as an internal other in the national discourse and to show how even positive representations of the South are often implicated in this othering. In the pages of National Geographic, the New South's progress is measured by the steps it takes away from the Old South. In highlighting the improvements made within the South, the articles provide subtle hints that the legacy of segregation, intolerance, racism, and poverty continues to haunt the region. The articles set up a spatial distinction that construes these evils as inherently southern problems, which implies that however far the New South moves away from the problematic legacy of the Old South, it will never quite reach the American ideal.

Ancillary