Accepted paper:

Standing Ground in Appalachia: Young Women Leading Community Organizations

Authors:

Ann Kingsolver (University of Kentucky)
Tammy Clemons (University of Kentucky)

Paper short abstract:

Young women leading organizations working toward sustainable futures in their home region of the Appalachian U.S. will discuss, in examples from filmed and recorded interviews, what they see as challenging and encouraging in their work, how they envision collective action in Appalachia in comparison with other efforts globally, and how gender matters in their work. The presenters, also from the region, will discuss these leaders' strategic mobilization of social capital, alternative community governance, and discourses of marginality and centrality in their work for change.

Paper long abstract:

There is a long tradition of collective political organization in the Appalachian region of the U.S., including labor unions, civil rights campaigns, and environmental activism. Currently, there are strong leaders emerging from local communities who are young women choosing to stay in Appalachia and work for sustainable futures in the region. This presentation will feature examples from filmed and recorded interviews with some of these young leaders about why they are organizing for change in their communities, what they see as challenging and encouraging about their work, how they envision collective action in Appalachia in comparison with other efforts globally, and how gender matters in their work. In a region characterized in many dominant discourses as "marginal" or, in the rhetoric of the federal Appalachian Regional Commission, "economically distressed," how do these young women conceptualize social capital, community, and governance? How do they draw strategically on various discourses about the region in mobilizing social and economic resources for their organizations? This presentation is given by a team of one anthropologist who has followed community organizing efforts in her home region of Appalachia over three decades and one young leader who combines sustainability and feminist media activism in Appalachia with graduate work in anthropology.

panel G04
Local and global emergence of women's leadership in a changing world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)