Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Priscilla McCutcheon

Second Advisor

Dr. Tad Mutersbaugh


In this dissertation, I argue that studying the history, and present moment, of how the United States reached the point where Black farmers comprise such a small percentage of the overall population, is one way to open a “portal” (Roy, 2020) to address fundamental topics at the heart of how hegemonic discourses around the nation-building project of the United States “produces ways of seeing, or not seeing” (Rojas Durazo, 2013: 144) certain people, places, and processes within understandings of rurality, identity, agriculture, ‘development’ – and redevelopment – and the narratives that are crafted around such topics. I utilize archival research and discourse analysis to trace how Black farming history has been documented and preserved (or not) within Appalachia, particularly within collections housed within or near Appalachian Kentucky, and oral histories with present- day Black farmers to both address gaps within the institutional archival spaces and where Black farmers describe and discuss their personal and community histories, legacies, and futures in Appalachian Kentucky.

Through my research, I contribute to Black food geographies, Black agrarian geographies, Black feminist theory, Appalachian Studies, oral history, and cooperative agricultural extension history. In general, my theoretical contributions focus on how Black extension agents and Black farmers – in particular, Black women farmers – can be understood as agents fighting within and beyond the State through the extension service and other State-led/ State-affiliated agricultural organizations. Archival records and oral histories with present-day Black farmers help to demonstrate these complex roles, highlighting how these agents navigate these spaces in Appalachian Kentucky where agricultural history and Black history is often lacking and Black people, much less Black farmers, are not frequently understood nor represented within depictions of the region.

Drawing from Ruth Wilson Gilmore’s introduction to Clyde Woods’ Development Arrested, this dissertation should be encountered and understood more so as a proposal rather than a proof (Gilmore, 2017 in Woods, 1998: xiv) in which what is presented here should not be considered as an end – a documentation of everything that has or will exist – but rather as a way in which to explore a multiple of possible stories about Black food and agrarian geographies and Black Appalachian geographies.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by a James S. Brown Graduate Student Award for Research on Appalachia through the University of Kentucky Appalachian Studies Program & Appalachian Center in 2022.

Available for download on Thursday, May 07, 2026