In 2016, the United States collectively pointed a trembling finger of accusation at the Appalachian region. The verdict was in: America was screwed, and “Trump Country” was to blame. Journalists began to flock to the region, looking to demystify and correctly identify the dysfunctional roots of Appalachia and its people. Thinkpiece after thinkpiece was published, many (if not most) reducing the complex and nuanced history of the region into a singular narrative about a backwards and impoverished white working class that were desperate and foolish enough to vote against their best interest. But being exposed to only this narrative does more than just oversimplify, it also obfuscates and distracts from more sinister stories of power and greed.
Elizabeth Catte, author of What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia, joins us this week to start a new and more nuanced conversation about Appalachia. In this episode, Dr. Catte frankly assesses the history of Appalachian stereotypes and the reasons why these stereotypes became and remain so popular. By providing us with examples of writing, art, and video games that “get it right” about Appalachia, Elizabeth reveals why it matters so much that we complicate the current Appalachian narrative not just for Appalachia’s sake, but for the sake of the United States as a whole.
Elizabeth Catte is a historian and writer originally from East Tennessee. She has a PhD in history and currently lives in Staunton, Virginia (pronounced Stanton) and is the director of Passel, a historical consulting firm. Her book, What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia will be out from Belt Publishing February 2018.
This episode is the first in Gaming Broadcast’s new series Playing Appalachia, a collection of conversations with Appalachian and Appalachian adjacent gamers and game makers.
Stuff We Mentioned…
Appalachian Regional Commission
Ohio Valley ReSource Journalism Collaborative
Whitesburg Kentucky Appalshop WMMT
The Trillbilly Worker’s Party Podcast
West Virginia Public Broadcasting Inside Appalachia “The Struggle to Stay”
The Bitter Southerner
Queer Appalachia and “Electric Dirt”
Photographers like Roger May, Raymond Thompson, and Megan King
100 Days of Appalachia
WMMT’s “Calls from Home”
Jesse Donaldson’s “On Homesickness: A Plea (In Place)”
Night in the Woods
Kentucky Route Zero
Gaming Broad(cast) is the official podcast of GamingBroadly.com. Thank you to everyone who has liked, subscribed, and commented about Gaming Broad(cast) on iTunes! You can also follow this podcast on Spotify, Podbean, Stitcher, Google Music, or subscribe directly using our RSS feed. Want some gamey goodness in your email inbox? Sign up for some occasional(ly) playful newsletter updates. Thanks to Ben Cohn for the music for this episode!