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Underground Tourists/Tourists Underground: African American Tourism to Mammoth Cave

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Abstract:

This paper uses structuration theory and the methods of historical geography to explore the conditions in which a Jim Crow-era hotel run by and for American Americans flourished at the edge of one of the nineteenth century's most popular tourist destinations, Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. It identifies structures, legal and customary, that hindered African American travel, but also, in this particular region, other structures linked to early twentieth-century capitalism that allowed room for agency on the part of the hotel's proprietors. It demonstrates the importance of understanding networks of social relations when undertaking micro-scale structuration analysis and contributes to our understanding of a little-studied aspect of Jim Crow-era tourism, the use of temporal and spatial strategies to create separate places within white tourist destinations for African American tourists.

Keywords: African Americans; Jim Crow; Kentucky; Mammoth Cave; Tourism; United States National Park Service; hotel; resort; structuration theory

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616688.2012.675514

Affiliations: Department of Geography & Geology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY, USA

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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