Settler preppers: Allison E. Ford, ‘”They Will Be Like a Swarm of Locusts”: Race, Rurality, and Settler Colonialism in American Prepping Culture’, Rural Sociology, 2021

13Jun21

Abstract: Preppers represent a sub-culture of Americans who prepare for the collapse of society, or “the end of the world as we know it,” via emergency preparedness and self-sufficiency. Securing access to land and the rights to access natural resources are the tenets of self-sufficiency. Preppers associate access to land, water, resources, and distance from the presumed danger of the urban core with the national myth of a white, settler-colonial rural idyll. Rural living is thus an ideal of self-sufficiency. Based on thematic narrative analysis of data derived from multi-method ethnographic research (participant observation, digital ethnography, and interviews [n = 22]), I examine the relationship between settler-colonialism, white hegemony, and environmental privilege in preppers’ discourse about the rural. Preppers rely on racially based frameworks that align with hegemonic whiteness, color-blind racism, and settler-colonialism. Even as they deny the salience of structural racism, preppers make claims to superiority based on cultural capacities like individualism, meritocracy, rationality, and objectivity. They invoke these claims to justify individualized, defensive response to socio-environmental risk that reproduces white possession of rural lands. Racialized prepper discourse informs the environmental practices that preppers adopt, based on claims to superiority and cultural entitlement to land rooted in settler-colonial ethics.



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