The Production of Region and the Romance with Whiteness
This final chapter speculates that Appalachia may be commodified in ways that have the potential to undermine the region as a tool to critique dominant assumptions. The first section, “The Production of Regional Identity,” discusses the relationship between regional fiction and the construction of regionalism. Readers' testimonies, alongside maps of mobile readers' geographic trajectories, indicate that the role of regional fiction is to produce readers who learn to feel regionally. Migration frequently provoked among white Americans a sense of deep estrangement that they turned to fiction to ameliorate. Readers' mobility in effect produced a market for regional fiction which in turn produced regional identity. The second section, “Romancing Appalachia,” urges the critique of popular celebratory representations of the region, arguing that they frequently code Appalachia as a simple, racially innocent, disadvantaged, “pure” Anglo-Saxon, and white ethnic community. For some Americans, romance with Appalachia is a romance with simple authentic white folk that may reinforce nativism, xenophobia, white nationalism, and the patronization of culturalized and racialized groups domestically and internationally.
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