Thursday, May 05, 2005

About those stereotypes

Shapiro examines the ways in which, beginning in the 1870s and 1880s, Americans perceived Appalachia as a strange place inhabited by 'peculiar'people. This perception, he argues, came not from the reality of Appalachian peculiarity but from the needs of middle-class Americans in industrializing America to project their own nostalgia for the past and fears for about the future onto a people perceived as different. Appalachia became the 'other', a place, and a people to be admired, patronized, converted, taught, uplifted, disciplined, and sometimes even emulated. The importance of such a place, where the people were assumed to be everything most Americans were not, but were still clearly of similar heritage and culture, offers hints of why myths about Appalachia were, until recently, so deeply ingrained as to make them impervious to scholarly inquiry.

Shapiro argues that American perceptions of Appalachia… are not and have never been based on evidence.

Altina Walker, "Feuding in Appalachia: Evolution of a Cultural Stereotype"

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