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Author ORCID Identifier


Campus-Only Access for One (1) Year

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Whitney Battle-Baptiste

Second Advisor

Julie Hemment

Third Advisor

David Glassberg

Subject Categories

Anthropology | Archaeological Anthropology | History | Public History | Social and Cultural Anthropology


This dissertation is a study of the orogenesis of Mount Holyoke, or the making of place on a mountain. It is an orogenic ethnography and a contemporary archaeological ethnography of place. Mount Holyoke is a mountain in Western Massachusetts that rises above the Connecticut River Valley. It is a prominent destination for tourists and locals alike to recreate outdoors in a state park, to observe the view of the valley below, and to visit the historic, nineteenth-century Summit House. I explore the nature and nuances of attachment to Mount Holyoke through time, by examining conceptions of place over two centuries. In each core chapter, I delve into rich descriptions and analyses of human engagement with a different aspect of Mount Holyoke: the view from the summit; its natural environment; its history; and its materiality. In Chapter 3, I explore understandings of the landscape and show how the view from Mount Holyoke is collectively understood as a vision of Arcadia, constructed by nineteenth-century elites and propagated today at the exclusion of the realities of modernity. In Chapter 4, I describe perceptions of the more-than-human environment and argue that a perceived dichotomy between the human and natural has driven conservation efforts and enhanced the conception of Mount Holyoke as a place of therapeutic respite and unique experiences. In Chapter 5, I describe engagement with the Summit House through preservation advocacy, collecting, and attending tours and demonstrate how the building was a more active site of engagement during its period of abandonment as a contemporary ruin versus as a renovated and preserved museum. In Chapter 6, I consider the ways in which memory is materialized on Mount Holyoke in the structure of the Summit House, the sites of a World War II plane crash, and the hiking trails, showing how this material engagement allows the mountain to remain an active site of memory. While my conclusions are about the ways in which people make meaning and construct place, I center the mountain and view Mount Holyoke as a product of social construction.