Remembering mountain meadows: Collective violence and the manipulation of social boundaries

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15 Scopus citations


The concept of social memory has generated a large literature, much of which focuses on the trauma of collective violence. Yet we need to know more about how narratives of violent and traumatic events influence social loyalties and how such narratives are managed or manipulated. Here we focus on the 1857 Mountain Meadows massacre, in which some 120 Arkansas emigrants were murdered in southwestern Utah. Our aim is not to establish "what really happened" at Mountain Meadows, but to examine the memory politics of the case-the many stories of the massacre, the ways they have been told, and their use as reference points in drawing or redrawing social boundaries. Our analysis highlights the activities of schoolteachers and other rural intellectuals in shaping the trauma process. This process, we argue, is based on an expanding sense of victimization as communicated in narratives of social violence and suffering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Anthropological Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Collective memory
  • Cultural trauma
  • Historical narrative
  • Mormons
  • Mountain meadows massacre
  • Ozarks
  • Victimization
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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