The Impact of Appalachian Culture

Almost without question, I grow concerned whenever I see people writing about Appalachia in broad sweeping terms. Unquestionably it’s a knee-jerk reaction to reading countless stories by people who characterize the region by its least common denominators.

But this piece doesn’t fall into that. Instead it’s an endearing, point-of-view essay that offers us an interesting primer into the history of Appalachia.

I’m not going to call out the specific passages I enjoyed. Instead, you should click on that link and go read for yourself. It’s worth that 10-15 minutes you’ll need.

(I do have to say that the author’s writing about coal and economics is particularly good.)

Now that we’re past the “read this” portion of the post, there are a few points that aren’t as well put together.

The most glaring: Equating the region’s stereotypes into the 1990s without a historical backdrop was a bit tough to take. The essay erases H.L. Mencken off the books. (His “Utopia by Sterilization” is offers a particularly gruesome look at the region, and helped shape many popular perceptions.)

Certainly stereotypes don’t destroy a population, but the constant reflection of those archetypes can demoralize those who already stand on shaky ground. That demoralization grows worse when compounded across generations, passed down first externally and then internally.

But I’m quibbling really. A nerd fight between nerds, which ultimately shouldn’t take away from you reading the original essay.

So go do that.

And Yet