Texan Hard-Luck: Social Ecology in Southeast Texas’s Golden Triangle


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




Ethnographically engaging with multiple publics in the small cities and rural backwaters of Southeast Texas’s Golden Triangle, this dissertation works through the political and ideological implications of stories told in a context of hard-luck Texan regionalism. In particular, it looks at hard-luck stories and oral histories of Southeast Texan LGBTQ folks and cancer patients, which are rich archives of exuberance, ideology, and pain. Their expressive qualities challenge conventional political discourse around notions of what progress means, how political consciousness is determined, and what defines community in the twenty-first-century US South. Unexpected histories of non-normative sexualities, fraught relationships with the petrochemical industry, and creative modes of regionalism together present a vibrant social ecology. Drawing out the complexities and incommensurabilities of ordinary life in this rigidly conservative and economically depressed region of Texas reveals a divided America in the throes of unprecedented upheaval, excess, and tragedy