Florida cattle, cracker cows, florida cowboys, fla. beef industry, florida ranching
Cattle ranching has been of major significance to Florida since the 16th century; however, few are aware of the historic, ecologic, economic and cultural influence of this industry. This study investigates the origins and impacts of the traditional customs and practices of Florida’s cattle ranchers, who preserve and reinvent this rich heritage today. Ranchers live closely with the land and their animals and, due to the often-uncertain and cyclical nature of the business, must possess resourcefulness and initiative to prosper. The image of the stoic cowboy has long been associated with the American West, yet before longhorn cattle ever crossed the western plains, Florida frontiers were populated with herds of unique “cracker” cows, descendants of cattle left behind by early Spanish settlers. Like the West, Florida experienced conflicts between ranchers and other land claimants, issues that continue in the 21st century. Modern ranchers contend with developers, environmental concerns, and increasing regulation, yet they persevere in passing on their cultural heritage. Agricultural lifestyles can be emotionally fulfilling, but stewardship of land and animals can be stressful and labor-intensive. Motivation to continue these customs may be enhanced by identification with cowboys of popular American media, enhanced by physical immersion in a similar setting. Optimal agricultural practices have been well researched; however, anthropology provides a useful lens to examine customs and practices of Florida’s cattle ranchers. Anthropologists have long been concerned with the dynamic relationship between human culture and the environment, examining how the physical landscape and ecological niches shape and are shaped by those who inhabit them. As globalized trade markets, technology, and economies expand, influencing agricultural practices and destroying natural habitats, diachronic studies of changing environments, economic and sociocultural influences in geographically bounded locales can be helpful in understanding this process. iv However, a key consideration is the fact that culture is not static, but ever changing, thus the most important aspects of tradition and heritage that we choose to retain and reinvent may provide the most telling insight into any society
Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic
Zellner, Corinne E., "Florida's Cattle Culture: Ethos And Enterprise In The Sunshine State" (2012). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2324.