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"Beyond the Mountains": The Paradox of Women's Place in Appalachian History

From: NWSA Journal
Volume 11, Number 3, Fall 1999
pp. 1-17 | 10.1353/nwsa.1999.0040


Despite the flourishing of southern women's history during the past two decades, the history of women in Appalachia has only begun to be written. Those who make the attempt must come to terms with implicitly gendered constructions of Appalachia and narratives of regional history that feature men as the determinant actors. Utilizing oral history and family legend, the article argues that women's history in Appalachia, particularly the history of working-class women, requires an approach that looks beyond orthodox sources of data and fields of action to locate women's history-making and the contestations of gender. The resulting feminist historiography challenges conventional conceptions of the region, its history, and who has created both.

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