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View Diary: Appalachia: Thoughts on The Land of My Ancestors (184 comments)

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  •  Appalachia is changing (3+ / 0-)

    I live in East Tennessee and I teach Appalachian history. Much of what you say is correct - but it's incomplete. Appalachia is a much more diverse region than one defined by Scots-Irishmen holed up in the hollers. There are political and social differences between East Tennessee, say, and southern West Virginia. For example, we've never mined much coal in East TN. Timber? Oh yeah, but not much since the 20th century. The Valley communities have always been more wealthy than the surrounding mountains, but many mountain folk moved into the valley towns in th 1930s. Meanwhile, the mountains themselves have oriented themselves more and more toward tourism.

    Go to Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia and you'll see the same new impulse toward tourism. With that emphasis comes people permanently moving in and changing the dynamic of Appalachia. That's already happened in much of western NC, happening in many parts of East TN, and will begin to happen in KY and WV.

    Note that a HUGE portion of the "old Appalachian stock" has long since moved to the Midwest or the West.

    The political culture is still largely resistant to outsiders - especially outside Knoxville.  And racism is still a major part of the culture outside the cities. But Appalachia has changed and will continue to change. Timelessness is an illusion.

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