Dr. Rex J. Rowley, assistant professor of geography, has recently published a book that explores the local life of residents among the glitz and glamour of the Sin City. Everyday Las Vegas: Local Life in a Tourist Town examines the influences the society and economy of Las Vegas has on the ordinary lives of its people, and their changing sense of belonging in the constantly mobile city. Forty million people visit Las Vegas every year, but two million people call the city home.
A former Las Vegan himself, Dr. Rowley explores in his book what it means to be a resident and a native of Las Vegas—two very different identities. In an interview conducted by Rowley, one woman describes that feeling like a resident of the constantly mobile city requires taking ownership of something within it. For some, raising a family is one way those who live in Las Vegas feel that they have become Las Vegans. This need for a “sense of place” is inherent in all residents of Las Vegas as it is a constantly changing city; for every two people who have moved into Las Vegas, another one has left. This lack of rootedness affects both the parents and children, and causes the residents to have no sense of responsibility to civic duty. A sense of community among the small neighborhoods, Rowley suggests, is what is needed before the residents began to feel a need to participate in Las Vegas politics.
Everyday Las Vegas explores the different ways people perceive the city has insiders and outsiders, a dichotomy that exists for a lot of tourism-based towns, which can offer many insights to American culture and other tourist towns. “My favorite part about writing the book was learning to understand how people interact with their place,” Dr. Rowley said. “We all have places that are unique or special to us and that relationship with place informs who we are.”
“The geography we are surrounded by, I found, is a huge part of the people we become. I think the story of Las Vegas locals brings that out,” he added.
The book has been reviewed in numerous magazines, such as Vegas Seven and Desert Companion, plus the largest newspaper in Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Dr. Rowley was also interviewed by the Nevada Public Radio with John L. Smith, the columnist at Las Vegas Review-Journal and James P. Reza, columnist for “Ask a Native” at Las Vegas Seven.
More information about Everyday Las Vegas: Local Life in a Tourist Town can be found at: http://www.everydaylv.com/