Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region

Author: Ethan R. Yorgason
Charting the shift from radicalism to conservatism in the Mormon American West
Paper – $27
978-0-252-07771-5
Publication Date: 2010
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About the Book

In this unique study, Ethan R. Yorgason examines the Mormon "culture region" of the American West, which in the late nineteenth century was characterized by sexual immorality, communalism, and anti-Americanism but is now marked by social conservatism. Foregrounding the concept of region, Yorgason traces the conformist-conservative trajectory that arose from intense moral and ideological clashes between Mormons and non-Mormons from 1880 to 1920. Looking through the lenses of regional geography, history, and cultural studies, Yorgason investigates shifting moral orders relating to gender authority, economic responsibility, and national loyalty, community, and home life.

Transformation of the Mormon Culture Region charts how Mormons and non-Mormons resolved their cultural contradictions over time by a progressive narrowing of the range of moral positions on gender (in favor of Victorian gender relations), the economy (in favor of individual economics), and the nation (identifying with national power and might). Mormons and non-Mormons together constructed a regime of effective coexistence while retaining regional distinctiveness.

About the Author

Ethan R. Yorgason is an adjunct assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Brigham Young University, Hawai'i.

Reviews

"Offers a fresh, nuanced interpretation of how yesterday's polygamous, communal, even anti-American Mormon radicals became modern-day social and political conservatives in the American West."--Professional Geographer

"Chief among [this book's] contributions are . . . a number of stimulating and novel insights about the causes and implications of the regional struggle between Mormons and non-Mormons during the period."--Journal of Mormon History

"This well-written book will . . . become a standard reference."--Choice

"Yorgason's challenging insights add an important dimension to the discussion of this time of transition, and they may well have a significant impact on how future scholars deal with it."--American Historical Review

Awards

Winner of the Best First Book Award, the Mormon History Association, 2004.