Date of Award

Summer 8-2014

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Chair

Jeffrey Kaufmann

Committee Chair Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 2

Bridget Hayden

Committee Member 2 Department

Anthropology and Sociology

Committee Member 3

Dana Fennell

Committee Member 3 Department

Anthropology and Sociology


This thesis is a case study of a family of farmers in Mississippi’s Piney Woods who use horse-drawn equipment to grow crops. This practice is notable in the context of a larger agricultural system that prioritizes mechanization (particularly the use of tractors). The production style and their use of local direct selling via farmers markets allowed them to thrive economically because they were able to tap into a niche market of consumers desiring an alternative to the modern, conventional agricultural system.

Other literature on Alternative Food Networks (AFN) discusses the issues of alterity and appropriation—that is, whether AFN ventures are sufficiently alternative and are not simply fronts for the very institutions or global players being resisted—but does not get into how participants—producers in particular—might utilize impression management strategies to convince others that they are sufficiently alternative. The family in question used narrative, rhetoric, and space to convince others that they carried alterity and also that they were traditional; the spaces they constructed on their property, which included a general store, gave visitors the impression of a restoration of the past. Both impression management and nostalgia played into what I call the traditional–modern framework, a conceptional arena that allowed participants to reflect their sense of identity and ideology.