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The industrial expansion of the twentieth century brought with it a profound shift away from traditional agricultural modes and practices in the American South. The forces of economic modernity—specialization, mechanization, and improved efficiency—swept through southern farm communities, leaving significant upheaval in their wake. In an attempt to comprehend the complexities of the present and prepare for the uncertainties of the future, many southern farmers searched for order and meaning in their memories of the past. This book explores the ways in which a diverse array of farmers remember and recount the past. The book tells the story of the modernization of the South in the voices of those most affected by the decline of traditional ways of life and work. The book analyzes the recurring patterns in their narratives of change and loss, filling in gaps left by more conventional political and economic histories of southern agriculture. The book also highlights the tensions inherent in the relationship between history and memory. The book employs the concept of “communities of memory” to describe the shared sense of the past among southern farmers. History and memory converge and shape one another in communities of memory through an ongoing process in which shared meanings emerge through an elaborate alchemy of recollection and interpretation.
The University Press of Kentucky
Place of Publication
978-0-8131-7150-0 (pdf version)
978-0-8131-3741-4 (epub version)
American South, Economic modernity, Specialization, Mechanization, Efficiency, Southern farmers, Communities, Agriculture
Agriculture | Cultural History | Oral History | United States History
Walker, Melissa, "Southern Farmers and Their Stories: Memory and Meaning in Oral History" (2006). Cultural History. 32.
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