Nearly 800 people were on Marshall’s campus this weekend for the Appalachian Studies Conference.
The three-day conference marked the 37th time the organization has got together to discuss the ins and outs of what makes Appalachia, Appalachia. Tyler Hughes made the trip from East Tennessee State University to attend.
“Even though every community has its own issues and each community is diverse, we’re still part of a larger system,” Hughes said. “I think it’s important for us to stay connected that way we can learn from each other in similar instances, we can learn from each other’s mistakes and from each other’s successes.”
Linda Spatig is a Professor in the College of Education at Marshall and the organizer of the conference.
“It brings together people who are academics doing scientific research on all kinds of aspects of the region all together with artists and writers and people who do that kind of work that are interested in the region and also there is a big strand of work in activism in the organization and blends all three of those components in a real unusual way,” Spatig said.
Sessions ranged from pop culture, to the psychology of the region, to musical performances and sessions on the food that is native to Appalachia, a region that stretches from New York to Alabama and Mississippi. Chris Green is a professor at Berea College in Kentucky and the outgoing President of the association. He said it’s a conference that touches on subjects as wide in scope as any conference out there.
“That means we’re people with a commonality of care about a wide place and I say a wide place because this is includes everywhere from Knoxville, Tennessee to Hinton, West Virginia, it includes the Cranberry Glades and it includes Huntington and it includes all the people therein, this includes immigrant doctors, it includes people who have been in this region because their granddads came in from Alabama to work on the railroads and work in McDowell County,” Green said.
Marcus Fioravante is a Marshall student from Charleston. He said it was important to him to be able to attend the event because he believes understanding about the area in which the university is located is important.
“I think it’s immensely important to remind people where you’re at, you’re not just here at Marshall University and that’s displaced from everything, so it’s great when it can bring opportunities that aren’t just reminders that this is a college, but this is an Appalachian college,” Fioravante said.
The keynote address was provided by Kentucky Writer Silas House.