Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Antoinette Jackson, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kiran Jayaram, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rebecca Zarger, Ph.D.


authenticity, Florida Cracker, heritage, history, race, museums representation, tradition, culture


This project explores the complex roles of power and heritage in the reproduction ofcultural and ethnic identities in the context of a local living history museum called Cracker Country. Throughout this thesis, I demonstrate how discourses of Florida heritage are constructed, reproduced, or contested in various ways among all the museum’s different communities of stakeholders. Using Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s (1995) theory of historical silences and expanding on Laurajane Smith’s (2006) notion of the Authorized Heritage Discourse, I explore the ways that heritage “works” at a local level, and the multitude of meanings it can hold within particular communities. I analyze the shared role played by both museum interpreters and local educators in the (re)production of particular heritage discourses, and how such discourses can both shape and be shaped by visitors’ own cultural identities.

This project utilizes a case study methodological approach, involving ethnohistorical research and ethnographic methods. Through participant observation, interviews, and visitor surveys, I identify diverse and changing perceptions of heritage, the past, and what it means to be a “Florida Cracker.”