About the Book
In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner famously argued that the generational process of meeting and conquering the supposedly uncivilized western frontier is what forged American identity. In the late twentieth century, “new western” historians dissected the mythologized western histories that Turner and others had long used to embody American triumph and progress. While Turner’s frontier is no more, the West continues to present America with challenging processes to wrestle, navigate, and overcome.
The North American West in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Brenden W. Rensink, takes stories of the late twentieth-century “modern West” and carefully pulls them toward the present—explicitly tracing continuity with or unexpected divergence from trajectories established in the 1980s and 1990s. Considering a broad range of topics, including environment, Indigenous peoples, geography, migration, and politics, these essays straddle multiple modern frontiers, not least of which is the temporal frontier between our unsettled past and uncertain future. These forays into the twenty-first-century West will inspire more scholars to pull histories to the present and by doing so reinsert scholarly findings into contemporary public awareness.
“Anthologies such as Trails Toward a New Western History (1991) have marked seminal moments in the developing field of western history. Brenden Rensink’s collection The North American West in the Twenty-First Century is a new landmark volume in this tradition, one that marks a seminal moment in our understanding of what contemporary western history is. The contributors—a distinguished and adventurous group of emerging and established scholars—take on the vital issues of environment, Indigenous sovereignty, labor and migration, and politics, and place the transition to the twenty-first century at the forefront of our thinking. Every scholar and student of the West needs to engage with this important collection.”—David M. Wrobel, author of America’s West: A History, 1890–1950
“This book is in the vanguard of scholarship on the twenty-first-century West. It will provide a benchmark for future generations of historians as they assess [this time period].”—Todd Kerstetter, author of Inspiration and Innovation: Religion in the American West