Don't think you're interested in green, gardening? This post has it all with a history of lawn landscaping and culture, considerations of class, design and aesthetic, exclusion and social-indicators of belonging. One might also easily read racial bias into lawn culture and cultural critique. D'Costa's post is somewhat reminiscent of Rotenberg's Landscape and Power in Vienna (1995) where he demonstrates how groups and classes work to align with political movements and inform cultural meanings in everyday (and larger, for example municipal, national, etc.) life.
Below is a snippet of her post:
We are at a moment when the American Dream, inasmuch as it still exists, is changing. The idea of homeownership is untenable or undesirable for many. While green spaces are important, a large area of green grass seems to be a lower priority for many. With a growing movement that embraces a more natural lifestyle, there is a trend toward the return of naturalized lawns that welcome flowering weeds, and subsequently support a more diverse entomological ecosystem.
Old habits die hard, however. And it is hard to also abandon this idea of a manifestation of material success, especially as it is so readily recognized as such. As of 2005, lawns covered an estimated 63,000 square miles of America. That's about the size of Texas. It's the most grown crop in the United States--and it's not one that anyone can eat; it's primary purpose is to make us look and feel good about ourselves.
D'Costa ends with the following statement: Lawns are American. But they're also an anomaly. And they may no longer fit the realities of the world we live in.
The lawn factor may also translate for some living up here in Canada.
Read more of D'Costa's analysis and about this history of lawn and lawn culture by clicking on the quick links below.
- Anthropology in Practice: Exploring the human condition Krystal D'Costa at Scientific American
- Anthropology Blogs for the Affluent Tech-Thusiast? AnthoEverywhere! (July 27 2017)
- The American Obsession with Lawns by Krystal D'Costa at Scientific American (May 3 2017)
- Landscape and Power in Vienna, Robert Rotenberg (1995)