New Western History?

Nic mentioned reading Patricia Limerick et. al., Trails: Toward a New Western History (1993), and this is a major theme in Joel’s essay.  One of the big questions that our history of Scotts Bluff National Monument would seem to raise is the utility of a New Western History approach in 2014, more than two decades later.  On the one hand the focus of New Western History on Native Americans, women, minorities, and the environment fits very nicely with our approach to the history of Scotts Bluff National Monument.  On the other hand, I think there is a feeling in the field that this approach has largely run its course, without anything necessarily emerging to take its place.  We have talked a little bit about using the concept of borderlands to help frame our research, and I think there is definitely some merit to this.  I would also like us to think about what the theory and practice of digital history might do to for western history.  Most importantly, as we research and write the history of Scotts Bluff National Monument, it would be interesting if we can also think about how this history might contribute to the field of western history more generally.  I’m not sure if “pioneers” is quite the right term in this context (!), but it would be good to keep asking ourselves what we’re doing that is a little different, and how our work might serve as a model for other projects of this sort.  Please post or comment if you have any ideas.

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