‘Expatalachians’ Project Explores the Diverse Appalachian Identity

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Ohio University alumni and native West Virginian Nick Brumfield found that his relationship with his own Appalachian identity changed and intensified after he graduated from Ohio University with a BA in Political Science in 2015 and left to pursue a MA in Arab Studies at Georgetown University, which he received in 2017.

“As I moved to Washington D.C. and met people from other parts of the country, it became very important for me personally to connect with that (Appalachian) identity and examine it more critically, and understand the history of it,” Brumfield said in an interview with WOUB about expatalachians, a journalism project he hatched with several other Ohio University alums in reaction to this. You can hear the interview embedded above.

Expatalachians is a frequently updated website that features a collection of journalistically tilted, academic-yet-accessible projects about Appalachia penned by Appalachians who no longer reside in the area, in effect making them expatriates.

“I think we are documenting a phenomenon that is increasingly common — especially among those who have to leave the area for work or for education,” said Brumfield. “This sort of diaspora of people from Appalachia; and that is a phenomenon that has a very long history — but I think we are probably one of the best examples of people sort of documenting that and speaking from that perspective in the here and now.”