Resistant place identities in rural Charleston County, South Carolina: Cultural, environmental, and racial politics in the Sewee to Santee Area
The cultural and political implications of landscape change and urban growth in the western U.S. are well-documented. However, comparatively little scholarship has examined the effects of urbanization on sense of place in the southern U.S. We contribute to the literature on competing place meanings with a case study from the rural “Sewee to Santee” region of northern Charleston County, SC. Our research highlights conflicting cultural, environmental, and racial politics and their roles in struggles over place meanings. Using focus groups, interviews with elected officials, and participant observation, we document initial African American resistance and eventual compliance with the prevailing anti-sprawl discourse and associated sense of place promoted by the Charleston County Planning Commission and others. Our research suggests that dynamics driving development in the rural, U.S. South are similar in kind to those in the Third World where natural resource decisions are informed by class, cultural, and racial politics.