Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography 2016 Finalist Michael Adno Cracker Politics

With Cracker Politics, The Limit of Colonial Knowledge, I am developing ways to rethink the complex colonial eras of Florida and their relationship to the state’s present political and cultural idiosyncrasies. My project works toward more fluid methods of perceiving layers of history, privileging the dialogue between the work and local communities—which subverts inscribed colonial narratives. The project’s dialogic model invites me to mine both regional and national archives, spend time working on-site, and engage local communities to ensure their histories are represented within their specific frames of reference.

From the Micanopy Historical Society to the Library of Congress, I have established relationships and methods for working with researchers, historians, and curators as each archive, institution, and voice plays an imperative role. The interdisciplinary arc of Cracker Politics aims to challenge established representations of history with hybridity, weaving together the disjuncture between regional and dominant narratives that model our sense of place and belonging.


For the past year, I have worked under the guidance of John Thrasher, Director of the Micanopy Historical Society, to explore the many secret fraternal organizations that have existed in Florida since the mid-nineteenth century. With Mr. Thrasher, I have made headway in exposing the inextricable but hidden ties between the Ku Klux Klan, local politics, and other clandestine white supremacist organizations. I hope to shed light on the contemporary manifestations of these groups, their histories, and their increasingly problematic phantom presence in politics, law enforcement, and everyday life.This part of Cracker Politics has become increasingly urgent with the countless events this past year that have highlighted the unresolved legacy of racial subjugation in our country.



Another example is my work with Michael Stallings, lead archaeologist and caretaker of the Little Orange Creek Nature Preserve in Hawthorne, Florida, where I have developed a body of work that looks closely at the undisturbed archaeological sites within LOCNP, the provenance of the land, and the blatant disregard of its historical importance by the National Historic Register of places and the State of Florida. This work lead to my current research that examines the effect of Governor Scott’s administration on Florida’s social infrastructure, education system, and economy as well as the states close to ties to corporate agriculture interests.


From the Scott and Bush administrations to Andrew Jackson’s tenure as governor, Cracker Politics delves into each case by illuminating hidden power structures and the privileging of certain narratives—both past and present—with national implications.

Congratulations to all of the Finalists in the 2016 Michael P. Smith Fund For Documentary Photography