Vermont and the Imaginative Geographies of American Whiteness

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The U.S. state of Vermont is often portrayed as a place where “race” is of little significance, yet notions of whiteness are central to how the state has been represented and represents itself. A critical analysis of historical and contemporary economies of representation examines how Vermont has been imagined as one of the last remaining spaces of authentic Yankee whiteness while more recently becoming an imagined homeland for particular brands of white liberal politics and social practice in the United States. Narratives of white Vermont identity have often explicitly drawn on oppositions to other forms of whiteness, particularly those associated with the U.S. South, in constructing an image of a comparatively racially benign Yankee whiteness. Recent right-wing discourses have explicitly attempted to construct Vermont whiteness as outside the American mainstream (not least through its discursive association with gay and lesbian sexualities), suggesting a need for geographical work on the (re)configuration of whiteness to reconsider where “normal” American whiteness is imagined to reside. The examination of the case of Vermont highlights the need for future geographical research to attend to continuities between various territorialized constructions of whiteness as well as contestations within whiteness.

Keywords: New England; Vermont; imaginative geographies; racialization; whiteness

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Geography, University of Leeds

Publication date: September 1, 2006

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