What does it mean to live in the West today? Do people tend to identify with states, with regions or with the larger West? This book examines the development of regional identity in the American West, demonstrating that it is a regionally diverse entity made up of many different wests - Great Plains, Southwest, Rocky Mountains, and more - in which American regionalism finds its fullest expression. These 14 essays tell how a sense of place emerged among residents of various regions and how a sense of those places was developed by people outside of them. The authors offer an overview of the West's regional nature; then 13 other scholars - from history, American studies, geography and literature - tell how regional consciousness formed among inhabitants of particular regions. All of these essays address the larger issue of the centrality of place in determining social and cultural forms and individual and collective identities. Some focus on race and culture as the primary influences on regional consciousness while others emphasize environmental and economic factors or the influences of literature.
Some even examine western regionalism in areas that lie beyond the West as it has traditionally been conceived. Each of the contributors believes that where a people live helps determine what they are, and they write not only about the many wests within the larger West, but also about the constant state of flux in which regionalism exists. "Many Wests" presents a vision of the West that reflects both the common heritage and unique character of each major subregion, building on the revisionist impulse of the last decade to help redirect New Western History toward an appreciation of regional diversity and integrate scholarship in the regional subfields. It is a book for everyone who lives in, studies, or loves the West, for it confirms that it is home to very different peoples, economies, histories - and regions.show more