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Old 01-21-2013, 12:24 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE (via SW Virginia)
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**Disclaimer: I'm specifically referring to Southern WV, Southwestern VA, Eastern KY, Western NC, Upstate SC, and North GA as these are the areas that emphasize the "thickest" Appalachian culture**

Appalachian culture and Southern culture share a lot of similarities and a lot of differences. The mountains of Appalachia are naturally rugged and difficult to cross...which has served as a natural isogloss and cultural boundary for many years. The cuisine, music, dialect, and general way of life was blocked off from it's flatland neighbors for hundreds of years until roads became more accessible. Appalachian cuisine is distinct, Appalchian "story-telling" isn't common elsewhere, Some old-timers use an Appalchian dialect that is almost incomprhensible to "out of towners," bluegrass style music is native to the area and differs from the music that is prevalent beyond the confines of the hills, and moonshine culture is quite distinct as well. Further...the means of providing for one's family is different in that farming isn't quite as common because the lack of useable land therefore mineral extraction/moonshine running became the bread and butter of Appalachia in their respective times.

These differences also stretch a bit further back to our ancestors. Most people from Appalachia have a mixture of Scots-Irish ancestry and some have a blend of native American indian as well with very few of African ancestry like the rest of the lowland South. Personally...I am almost entirely Scots-Irish (like most of my Southwest VA neighbors) with exception to my great-grandmother who was 100% cherokee from Western NC. This can be contrasted from most people from the lowland south who have a mixture of general "american", african, french, and english ancestry.

So...this brings me to my question. Is Appalachian culture a unique American culture all to it's own that has developed in close proximity to Southern culture or a sub-set of greater Southern culture that has evolved within it's boundaries and influenced it?
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:13 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE (via SW Virginia)
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Culture of it's own is my vote
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Old 01-21-2013, 03:52 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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I think there are several cultures that can be called distinctively southern. Appalachian is one of them. So I guess it's a subset.

Here's my silly analogy. Oranges are different from lemons, but they are both citrus.
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Old 01-21-2013, 04:42 PM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE (via SW Virginia)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mancat100 View Post
I think there are several cultures that can be called distinctively southern. Appalachian is one of them. So I guess it's a subset.

Here's my silly analogy. Oranges are different from lemons, but they are both citrus.

Thats valid....my only contention would be this...does a culture existing within a certain area make it a byproduct of it's region or it's origin? Like...could Appalachian culture and Southern culture be contrasted because they developed independent of one another despite not existing that far from one another.

Let me reduce that a bit more...Does the Chicago's culture make it a "midwestern" culture because Chicago is in the midwest or is it a unique culture to it's own. Or does Bakersfield, CA flux of southerners in the dustbowl era make the subsequent Bakersfield culture western or southern?
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Old 01-21-2013, 10:55 PM
 
Location: NYC
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I consider it a subset of southern culture. At least, in my experience growing up in Western KY and visiting Eastern KY a lot. Definitely differences, but I see them as both "southern." That said, I see a lot of different subcultures in the south. They're all southern and share similarities, but they have differences, depending on region, socio-economic background, etc.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:21 PM
 
Location: Philadelphia
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If southern Appalachia isn't considered "southern", then you would have to take all the writers, politicians, artists, military and historical figures from southern Appalachia and remove them from southern culture. Writers like James Agee, Jesse Stuart and Davis Grubb would be gone from southern anthologies and libraries, the Grand Ole Oprey would be disembowled of talent, Stonewall Jackson would no longer be part of southern history, museums would lose a lot of their decorative arts and paintings, and everything that the people of southern Appalachia have contributed to the south would have to be given back. It reminds me of something John Shelton Reed said when asked if West Virginia was southern, and he said "When we want it to be". Cute, but not very nice. You can't treat people that way.
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Old 01-21-2013, 11:52 PM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Well it goes by to the perennial question of what constitutes Southern culture? Their accent is as southern as you can get, and the standard accent of eastern TN and western VA (the part of Appalachian I've been to) sounds little different to the accent I heard in Mississippi or northern Louisiana.

Of course it's very distinctive.etc, but today especially I think it's more of a subset of Southern. If you were to carve up the south that way you'd have to say Cajun/Creole culture was also 'not southern', but they are all Southern, just with strong identities.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:16 AM
 
Location: Lincoln, NE (via SW Virginia)
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The best way for me to explain how Ive always viewed southern culture and Appalachian culture is this: the two are different but not mutually exclusive. The reason, to me anyway, that Appalachian culture is so unique is because the natural physical boundaries that prevented cultural migration. This caused such a unique development. Now...that doesn't mean that one couldn't be Appalachian and southern...but to me the cultures evolution is just too distinct to exist solely as a subset...same with Cajun culture in Louisiana. But again that doesnt mean a cajun or an appalachian wouldnt be considered southern. Cajuns and Appalachians fought for the south in the war, most (myself included as a southwest virginian) consider themselves as southern today, their writers amd artists are considered southern, and they likely always will be. Both Cajun and Appalachian culture exist within the south...so in the purest sense they ARE southern cultures...but they are so unique in that their ancestral, musical, and gastronomical cultures cultures developed independent of their surroundings.

To me anyway....they are the two most unique cultures in the US.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:35 AM
 
Location: The western periphery of Terra Australis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wnewberry22 View Post
The best way for me to explain how Ive always viewed southern culture and Appalachian culture is this: the two are different but not mutually exclusive. The reason, to me anyway, that Appalachian culture is so unique is because the natural physical boundaries that prevented cultural migration. This caused such a unique development. Now...that doesn't mean that one couldn't be Appalachian and southern...but to me the cultures evolution is just too distinct to exist solely as a subset...same with Cajun culture in Louisiana. But again that doesnt mean a cajun or an appalachian wouldnt be considered southern. Cajuns and Appalachians fought for the south in the war, most (myself included as a southwest virginian) consider themselves as southern today, their writers amd artists are considered southern, and they likely always will be. Both Cajun and Appalachian culture exist within the south...so in the purest sense they ARE southern cultures...but they are so unique in that their ancestral, musical, and gastronomical cultures cultures developed independent of their surroundings.

To me anyway....they are the two most unique cultures in the US.
While WV was a Union state I heard about half of West Virginians fought for the South, not sure if that's true though. That seems to be one of the reasons brought up as to why WV isn't 'southern.' I have a pretty simplistic view of things, if they talk southern they are southern.
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:41 AM
 
Location: West Tennessee
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I agree with you wnewberry. Southern Appalachian culture is unique but would be grouped with the rest of the south in a greater context. Same with the Cajun culture.

Appalachia is unique in my opinion due to being heavily influenced by the Scotch-Irish only. It was the only place in the world that the Scotch-Irish were allowed to develop a culture in relative peace.
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