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Whitworth History Professor’s New Book Offers Fresh Look on Antebellum South

Arlin C. Migliazzo, professor of history at Whitworth University, provides a "new social history" of the antebellum South in his book, To Make This Land Our Own: Community, Identity, and Cultural Adaptation in Purrysburg Township, South Carolina, 1732-1865 (University of South Carolina Press), which was released in October 2007.

The story of Purrysburg Township, founded in 1732 and set in the forbidding environment bounded by the Savannah River and the Coosawatchie swamps, challenges the notion that white colonists shed their ethnic distinctions to become a monolithic culture. Migliazzo views Purrysburg as a laboratory in which to observe ethnic phenomena in the colonial and antebellum South. Separated by linguistic, religious and cultural barriers, the émigrés adapted familiar social processes from their homelands to create a workable sense of community and identity. Migliazzo's work is one of only a handful of examples of what has been deemed the new social history methodology as applied to a South Carolina subject.

"For what it tells us of people, place, and purpose, To Make this Land Our Own is a significant contribution to our understanding of the development of the southern backcountry," wrote Kenneth E. Lewis, in a review of Migliazzo's book. Lewis is the author of Camden: Historical Archaeology in the South Carolina Backcountry.

To Make This Land Our Own provides readers with an opportunity to learn of another South beyond the traditionally understood plantations – a South in which settlers needed to redefine European values and traditions to survive. 

Migliazzo is professor of history and former director of faculty development at Whitworth University. He holds an M.A. from Northern Arizona University and a Ph.D. from Washington State University, and has published in the areas of colonial South Carolina history, ethnic studies, Pacific Northwest history, comparative democratic development, and the history and culture of higher education. He is the editor of the book Lands of True and Certain Bounty, the first comprehensive compilation of the writings of 18th-century Swiss explorer and colonial visionary Jean Pierre Purry. In fall of 2002, Fordham University Press published Teaching as an Act of Faith, also edited by Migliazzo. The book features essays written by veteran scholars from a wide variety of academic disciplines who have spent years honing their theological understanding, and incorporating that understanding into their teaching strategies at church-related colleges and universities across the nation.


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