Monday, July 11, 2011

Talking Maine "culture clashes" on History Channel

Brian Unger and the History Channel's How the States Got Their Shapes crew were in town last summer putting together an episode on "culture clashes" within various states (a topic I delve into in great detail in my forthcoming American Nations.) The resulting episode is apparently currently running on The History Channel. It's also currently available online at their site.

I haven't had a chance to watch it yet, but they were in Maine exploring the "two Maines" hypothesis. Readers of The Lobster Coast will not be surprised to learn I argued that, yes, there's a culture clash, but that it's not geographic, but cultural in nature, fueled by Maine's post-colonial relationship with Massachusetts Bay and centuries of attendant resentments and conflicts between "natives" and people "from away." The latter group is more dominant in the "have" part of Maine -- essentially Congressional District 1 -- thus, the mistaken notion that there is an actual geographic divide, the way there is in Maryland, Texas, or Oregon. Will be interested to see what comes across in the episode!

[Update, 7/13/11: Watched it. Fun segment, though I disagree with the assumption that the split is between the coast and interior (Washington County is absolutely the "other Maine") or that the "native" culture of these regions are fundamentally at odds with one another. Waldo County in, say, 1965, was probably poorer than Piscataquis or Aroostook, so in broad historical terms, the split is an illusion. But explaining this would, indeed, make for pedantic and boring national television!]

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