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Capturing the SouthImagining America's Most Documented Region$
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Scott L. Matthews

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469646459

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469646459.001.0001

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What a Place This South Is

What a Place This South Is

Jack Delano’s Farm Security Administration Photographs of Greene County, Georgia, during the New Deal

(p.68) Chapter Two What a Place This South Is
Capturing the South

Scott L. Matthews

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter examines Farm Security Administration photographer Jack Delano’s images of Greene County, Georgia during the New Deal. It highlights his collaboration with sociologist Arthur Raper who was conducting his own fieldwork in Greene County for the FSA. With Raper’s assistance, Delano created an extraordinary photographic record, making Greene the most photographed county in the most documented region during the New Deal. Nevertheless, Delano emphasized certain images of Greene County that link his work to the region’s broader documentary tradition. His photographs both exposed the poverty and environmental exploitation that were products of the region’s cotton economy and romanticized the county’s seemingly premodern folk and agrarian roots, which neutralized his work’s reformist agenda. This chapter also uncovers the resistance Raper and Delano faced to their documentary work in Greene County. Some whites feared Raper’s work with New Deal agencies might undermine white supremacy while the county’s rural black people occasionally expressed resentment at the intrusion of a government photographer, even one motivated by New Deal liberalism. These suspicions and acts of resistance led Raper and Delano to create a sanitized images of Greene County in Tenants of the Almighty, a documentary book that represented the culmination of their collaboration.

Keywords:   Farm Security Administration, Jack Delano, Arthur Raper, Greene County, Georgia, photographer, sociologist, New Deal, documentary, folk, resistance

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