Land, God, and Guns

Settler Colonialism and Masculinity in the American Heartland

Levi Gahman


How rationalities and rites of passage associated with manhood in the white American Heartland are constitutive of racist and heteropatriarchal violence

This book is an antidote to the forms of American nationalism, masculinity, exceptionalism, and self-anointed prowess that are currently being flexed on the global stage.

Through a fascinating combination of ethnographic research across seven US states and the application of postcolonial, anti-racist, feminist and poststructuralist theories, Land, God, and Guns reveals how time-honoured rites of passage associated with taken-for-granted notions of manhood in the American Heartland are constitutive of a constellation of colonial worldviews, capitalist logics, gender essentialisms, ethnocentric religious beliefs, jingoistic populism, racial animus, and embodied violence. A constellation that, within the US, upholds a heteropatriarchal and racist ordering of life that both privileges and ultimately damages its main proliferators – white settler men.

This is a detailed work that at once unravels rural white settler masculinity and the US state at their roots, whilst demonstrating why any analysis of the cultural production and social practice of masculinity in the United States must take into account the country's historical trajectories of imperialism, land dispossession, nation-state building, enslavement, extractive accumulation and valorisation of masculinist assertions of dominance.

Author Bio

Born and raised in rural Kansas, Levi Gahman currently works in the Power, Space, and Cultural Change unit at the University of Liverpool's Department of Geography and remains a researcher with the University of the West Indies' Institute for Gender and Development Studies. His areas of focus include anti-racist and anti-colonial praxis, critical development studies, gender justice, and autonomous social movements. Along the way, he has spent time as a sawmill laborer, farmhand, warehouse worker, substance abuse counselor, trauma therapist, disability services associate, human rights observer, and solidarity brigade member. Levi is also editor of the journal ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies.

Table of Contents

  • 1. There’s No Place Like Home
  • 2. Settler Colonialism, Empire, Borders
  • 3. Masculinity, Place, Intersectionality
  • 4. Kansas, Bled: Land, History, Violence
  • 5. Frontier, Family, Nation
  • 6. Capitalism, Work, Respect
  • 7. Looking Back, Going Forward


'A unique view into the lives and struggles of working class white men in the Heartland of the United States. Drawing on critical geography and postcolonial theory, it reveals mundane forms of violence central to settler colonialism that stabilize a region and people typically mythologized in the contemporary political landscape.'
Jeffrey Montez de Oca, University of Colorado

'A compassionate dialogue with men in the American heartland, this is a book that needs reading in these urgent and polarizing times.'
Sarah de Leeuw, University of Northern British Columbia


Publication Date: 15 May 2020
336 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781786996350
Hardback: 9781786996367
eBook ePub: 9781786996381
eBook PDF: 9781786996374
eBook Kindle: 9781786996398

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