An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
Posted on March 27, 2013
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Erika Harding, Emory University; John Vachon, Photographer

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John Vachon, Miner's sons salvaging coal during May 1939 strike, Kempton, West Virginia. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black-and-White Negatives Collection, LC-USF34-032709-D.
John Vachon, Miner's sons salvaging coal during May 1939 strike, Kempton, West Virginia. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black-and-White Negatives Collection, LC-USF34-032709-D.

Recommended Resources

Related Southern Spaces Links
Burns, Shirley. "Mountaintop Removal in Central Appalachia," Southern Spaces, September 30, 2009, http://southernspaces.org/2009/mountaintop-removal-central-appalachia.

Dotter, Earl. "Coalfield Generations: Health, Mining, and the Environment," Southern Spaces, July 16, 2008, http://southernspaces.org/2008/coalfield-generations-health-mining-and-environment.

Fisher, Steven and Barbara Ellen Smith. "The Place of Appalachia," Southern Spaces, January 31, 2013, http://southernspaces.org/2013/place-appalachia.

Posted on March 25, 2013
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Meredith Doster, Emory University

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A few months ago, my husband and I moved from rural Arkansas to the great Atlanta sprawl and settled in Druid Hills, a neighborhood within walking distance of Emory University's campus. The land that constitutes the Druid Hills neighborhood was originally ceded to the Georgia government by Native Americans in 1821 and was subsequently surveyed and sold to white settlers. Today, the area has become a prominent suburban enclave near Atlanta's urban center. Celebrated landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted drew the original plans for Druid Hills in the late nineteenth century, envisioning "healthful living in a country setting, yet not far from the city."

Sam Fowler, General plan Druid Hills historic district, US 29, Atlanta, Georgia, 1987. Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey HABS GA-2390-6.
Sam Fowler, General plan Druid Hills historic district, US 29, Atlanta, Georgia, 1987. Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey HABS GA-2390-6.
Sam Fowler, 1930 City of Atlanta quadrangle map, Druid Hills historic district, US 29, Atlanta, Georgia.  Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey HABS GA-2390-10.
Sam Fowler, 1930 City of Atlanta quadrangle map, Druid Hills historic district, US 29, Atlanta,Georgia, 1987. Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey HABS GA-2390-10.

Reverberations of Olmsted's designs are surfacing today in Druid Hills, a suburban space that exists as a borderland, literally "outside the city", but not quite in the country. Having lived in major metropolitan areas, small towns, and rural communities, I did not initially realize that we had moved to "the suburbs." In my mind, Atlanta was one big mass of city and I had prepared myself for an urban jungle. However, while we live one mile from the Atlanta city limits, my new neighborhood hosts a variety of wildlife, including chipmunks, rabbits, foxes, owls, and hawks, not to mention large wooded areas that provide habitat for the band of coyotes whose presence is testing the limits of Olmsted's bucolic vision. Often associated with rural and western spaces, coyotes have been migrating eastward for the past century and now occupy increasingly contested territory in major metropolitan areas, including Atlanta. A 2012 New York Times article noted that "the urban coyote problem has come to Atlanta at last."

In response to increased coyote sightings and several coyote/pet skirmishes, the Druid Hills Civic Association sponsored a community meeting on January 29, 2013, to discuss the concept of coexistence. As the term implies, humans and coyotes exist in shared territories, confounding distinctions we sometimes draw between human and animal worlds. Central to the concept of coexistence is modifying the behavior of both human and animal, requiring an ongoing effort to sustain a dialogue-of-sorts with another species. In essence, coexistence asks us to take coyotes seriously as participants in a community defined by all living beings that inhabit it—plant, human, and animal-life alike.

Janet Kessler, Coyote coexistence Atlanta, 2009. Courtesy of Janet Kessler, CoyoteYipps.com.
Janet Kessler, Coyote coexistence Atlanta, 2009. Courtesy of Janet Kessler, CoyoteYipps.com.

The parish hall of the Church of the Epiphany was packed, as concerned neighbors, and at least one intrigued graduate student, gathered to hear three speakers representing a spectrum of professional backgrounds and perspectives. Chip Elliott, an animal trapper with over ten years of experience in the Atlanta metro area, promoted both education and trapping as important measures to maintain a critical balance between humans and coyotes. While Elliott endorsed trapping as a successful mechanism for coyote control, he acknowledged that the practice would not eliminate the population. Instead, Elliott presented trapping as a controlled human response intended to "put fear" into increasingly bold coyote communities. Dr. Chris Mowry, a biologist at Berry College, provided insight into contemporary research on urban coyote populations, prefacing his presentation with the admission that, "We don't understand the coyote in Atlanta very well." Mowry's presentation highlighted the need for more research on the urban coyote phenomenon and introduced the Metro Atlanta Coyote Project. A collaboration that Mowry spearheads with Zoo Atlanta and the Fernbank Science Center, the Metro Atlanta Coyote Project studies behaviors and activity patterns of urban coyotes in order to develop more effective management strategies of these populations. Mary Paglieri of the Little Blue Society for Human-Animal Conflict Resolution concluded the evening's presentations. As a professional tracker, Paglieri emphasized the concept of "just balance," which weighs human and animal needs as equally important parts of a larger ecosystem. Paglieri described the coyote's ability to adapt to most human behaviors and responses, requiring a sustained "management co-existence program" that responds to coyote's "natural instincts," as opposed to "aberrant behaviors" the animals learn from contact with humans.

Coyote Meeting, Druid Hills Civic Association, Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, Georgia, January 29, 2013.

From the outset of the meeting, it was clear that meeting attendees had strong feelings about what the moderator identified as the "coyote matter." As such, many of the questions revealed tensions between ideals of human compassion and their application. In a moment of levity, a Druid Hills resident asked whether peeing on a trapped coyote might deter it from establishing territory in human spaces, enabling it to be released into the neighborhood, as opposed to euthanizing it according to state law. While the question resulted in laughter, it highlighted one of the central concerns in the room: Can we demarcate space and establish identifiable boundaries that coyotes both recognize and respect? As all three speakers agreed that coyotes will maintain a permanent presence in the Druid Hills landscape, it is apparent that we need to learn how to speak across the human-animal divide. The coyote matter provides an opportunity to reflect on the limitations of distinctions we draw between oppositional binaries such as rural/urban, domesticated/wild, human/animal that have profound implications for our understanding of the spaces we inhabit. As a new resident of Druid Hills, the neighborhood coyotes challenge me to consider Olmsted's vision of a "country" neighborhood within the Atlanta landscape and to look across the boundaries of my comfort zone, identifying opportunities for meaningful coexistence with both humans and animals in the suburban wild.

Posted on March 20, 2013
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Meredith Doster, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to re-open murder cases stemming from the civil rights era that had initially been shelved as "cold cases." A recent New York Times article describes the cold-case initiative, which was launched in 2006, as an effort to provide closure to both victims' families and the general public. The initiative was written into law in 2008 when Congress passed the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act, although the impact of this legislative agenda has been limited due to both budgetary constraints and lack of prosecutorial resources. Today, approximately twenty cold cases remain open and unresolved. While one re-opened case has resulted in a successful prosecution, the remainder of the 112 cases investigated as a part of the initiative have been closed.
  • Two teenage defendants in a controversial rape trial held in Steubenville, Ohio, were found guilty on Sunday, March 17, and sentenced to serve time at a juvenile detention facility until their twenty-first birthdays. Located in one of Ohio's thirty-two Appalachian counties, news outlets have described Steubenville as both an impoverished town in the Rust Belt of Ohio and as an industrial Appalachian city, tacitly connecting the crime to longstanding regional stereotypes. The case has garnered national attention due to both the severity of the crime and the defendants' use of social media to record and publicize their actions.
  • The Project on Fair Representation, a conservative advocacy group that supports litigation challenging racial and ethnic classifications in state and federal courts, filed the complaint Lepak vs. City of Irving in 2010. Responding to a redistricting plan that numerically impacted the weight of individual votes in one Irving district, the case highlights ambiguity in the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 that outlawed discriminatory voting practices, but which did not clarify whether "one person one vote" requires districts to be measured by number of people or by number of eligible voters. A recent New York Times article describes the potential implications of a Supreme Court decision to define districts by voting eligibility, especially in communities with high numbers of ineligible voters. The Supreme Court is scheduled to decide whether to hear this case in the coming weeks.
Posted on March 5, 2013
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Erika Harding, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • On March 3, 2013, doctors announced that a baby born in rural Mississippi had been "functionally cured" of HIV infection. The case is groundbreaking because the mother did not undergo prenatal care to prevent her baby’s infection. The baby, now two-and-a-half years old, received antiretroviral drugs thirty hours after birth. The baby continued to undergo treatment for eighteen months; the mother then stopped giving the child medication. Five months later, the mother returned with the baby and, upon performing tests, doctors discovered no trace of HIV in the baby. As The New York Times reported, transmission of HIV from mother to baby is rare in the United States, about two hundred cases per year, as mothers generally receive prenatal care to prevent transmission. This is the second reported case of a person cured of HIV. The first was a middle-aged male named Timothy Brown, who was cured in 2007 as a result of bone-marrow transplant from a "donor genetically resistant to HIV infection." The New York Times also stated that, if this practice is demonstrated to work with other newborns, it will be widely recommended for use around the world.
  • Marco McMillian, an openly gay African American mayoral candidate in Clarksdale, Mississippi, was found murdered on Wednesday, February 27, 2013. The body of the Democratic candidate was discovered near the base of the Mississippi River after having been missing for a day. The next day, a suspect named Lawrence Reed was arrested. While the victim's family claims that the murder was "not a random act of violence," officials are not investigating the murder as a hate crime. As the Chicago Tribune reported, McMillian was "one of the first viable, openly gay" candidates in the state. 
  • On February 7, 2013, one hundred forty-eight years after the state received the Thirteenth Amendment from Congress, the state of Mississippi finally ratified the amendment that outlaws slavery. As reported in the Washington Times, the ratification was inspired by the movie, Lincoln. After watching the film, a citizen looked into the history of the state’s ratification of the amendment. He then discovered that, while the Legislature voted to ratify the amendment in 1995, the documentation was never sent to the United States archivist and thus was never officially ratified. 
Posted on February 27, 2013
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Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University

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In November of 2011 I wrote for Southern Spaces on the first Ireland Sacred Harp Convention, a key marker and catalyst of the growing presence of Sacred Harp singing in Europe. In September of 2012, I returned to Europe to attend three Sacred Harp events: the seventeenth United Kingdom Sacred Harp Convention, the oldest Sacred Harp convention in Europe; the first session of Camp Fasola Europe, held near Gdansk in northern Poland; and the first Poland Sacred Harp Convention, held in Warsaw. Like the Ireland Convention, these events exceeded organizers' expectations for attendance, brought together an unprecedentedly international group of Sacred Harp singers, and served as revelatory and emotionally overwhelming experiences to attendees. These events also served as sites around which singers negotiated their associations of Sacred Harp singing with place.

Lauren Bock, 196-86, Gdansk Airport, Poland, 2012. The song on page 196 in The Sacred Harp is titled "Alabama"; the song on page 86, "Poland." This fortuitous image, spotted on the side of a taxi at the Gdansk airport signified for disembarking singers both the physical distance some of them had traveled to attend Camp Fasola Europe and the Poland Sacred Harp Convention and the metaphorical space Sacred Harp singing itself had traveled to make these events possible.
Lauren Bock, 196-86, Gdansk Airport, Poland, 2012. The song on page 196 in The Sacred Harp is titled "Alabama"; the song on page 86, "Poland." This fortuitous image, spotted on the side of a taxi at the Gdansk airport signified for disembarking singers both the physical distance some of them had traveled to attend Camp Fasola Europe and the Poland Sacred Harp Convention, and the metaphorical space Sacred Harp singing itself had traveled to make these events possible.

Ties between Sacred Harp singing and specific places have long been a part of the musical form. These connections are even indexed in The Sacred Harp songbook. Composers of many Sacred Harp songs chose titles referring to the towns, counties, and US states where the composers lived or visited. Still others named tunes for distant countries and continents, perhaps seeking to imbue their music with a sense of mystery or exoticism by associating it with a far-off place. Like these composers, European Sacred Harp singers have related songs to place in cases where their titles have coincided with the names of European cities and countries where Sacred Harp singing now occurs. Singers such as Cath Saunt and Fynn Titford-Mock of Norwich in the United Kingdom frequently lead a song in The Sacred Harp titled "Norwich," a sprightly fuging tune named by its composer D. P. White in 1850 for a community in Taylor County, Georgia. And the song "Poland," named for the European nation in 1783 by Massachusetts composer Timothy Swan, unsurprisingly became something of a theme song for the events this September, sung by visiting singers just after arriving in Gdansk, by Polish singers themselves at numerous occasions, and by David Ivey, director of Camp Fasola, as an expression of thanks at the Poland Convention.1

 
Jesse P. Karlsberg, Sacred Harp singing flyer at the seventeenth United Kingdom Sacred Harp Convention advertising "American shape-note singing," Winnersh, United Kingdom, 2012.
Jesse P. Karlsberg, Sacred Harp singing flyer at the seventeenth United Kingdom Sacred Harp Convention advertising "American shape-note singing," Winnersh, United Kingdom, 2012.

In November, I remarked that "many new singers," such as those in Europe, associate authentic, traditional Sacred Harp practice "with prominent singing families from Alabama, Georgia, and Texas who have long histories of Sacred Harp participation." While this association has led to a tendency in the United States for new singers to "imagin[e] this locus of tradition . . . as 'southern,'" in Europe, teachers at Camp Fasola, and new European singers alike used a wide range of place names to refer to Sacred Harp singing's source. For many, "southern" sufficed as a term with the capacity to both generalize Sacred Harp singing's historical roots and evoke a "white, rural South" as the imagined home of this style of singing. Yet numerous others referred to "American Sacred Harp singing," relying on this broader term to associate Sacred Harp singing with the authenticity, folkloricity, and exoticism that the term "southern" carries for audiences in the United States.

Other singers explicitly associated the practices of Sacred Harp singing with particular places and time periods. P. Dan Brittain—a teacher at Camp Fasola Europe from Harrison, Arkansas who began singing Sacred Harp in 1970 as a military band director stationed at Fort McPherson, Georgia—explicitly framed his singing school as teaching the style of Sacred Harp singing practiced in West Georgia in the early 1970s. Other singing teachers such as Ivey, originally from Henagar, Alabama, and Judy Caudle, from Eva, Alabama, taught aspects of Sacred Harp singing they described as associated with their families and localities. 

Jesse P. Karlsberg, P. Dan Brittain teaches a "rudiments of music" class at Camp Fasola Europe, Chmielno, Poland, 2012.
Jesse P. Karlsberg, P. Dan Brittain teaches a "rudiments of music" class at Camp Fasola Europe, Chmielno, Poland, 2012.

A key concern of European singers was how they should negotiate between their interest in emulating these practices associated with regional singing traditions and their desire to adapt Sacred Harp singing to their European locales. Camp instructors encouraged these students to learn about and adopt practices long-associated with Sacred Harp singing, yet also seemed to view "tradition" as something that could change, evolve, and develop around Sacred Harp singing in its new European homes. Singers were also aware of the potential for these conventions and Camp Fasola Europe to shape practices in European Sacred Harp singing places for years to come. 

Music for "Novakoski," composed by P. Dan Brittain in 1989, (p. 481 in The Sacred  Harp). Used by permission of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company.
Music for "Novakoski," composed by P. Dan Brittain in 1989, (p. 481 in The Sacred  Harp). Used by permission of the Sacred Harp Publishing Company.

At the end of one of his classes, Brittain—who has four compositions in The Sacred Harp, three of which were already popular among several groups of European singers—described rediscovering a draft of his song "Novakoski," a version different than the one he published in The Sacred Harp. His draft began slowly in 2/2 time before switching to a brisker 4/4 at the start of the song's fuging section. The published version, however, is in 4/4 throughout, which in The Sacred Harp indicates a moderate tempo (itself different from the version Brittain submitted, which was in 2/2 throughout and intended to be sung slowly). The time change in Brittain's draft translates into music notation an oral tradition associated with two other Sacred Harp songs which, though notated in 4/4, are sung with a slow plain section leading to a brisker fuging section.

Brittain noted he had never heard "Novakoski" sung with this change in tempo, and the class of singers immediately asked to sing the song that way. The singers were delighted with the result, and Brittain decided he was happy to have the song sung in either fashion. During the remainder of Camp Fasola, "Novakoski," sung with a time change, was a popular leading choice for campers—and was a frequent topic of discussion among campers in the evening, some of whom half-jokingly spoke of the incident as the beginning of a new "local tradition." This process was cemented the next weekend at the Poland Convention when an Irish singer stood before the class, called out the page number, and asked to sing the song "Poland style." As Sacred Harp singing continues to spread, singers are finding ways to create new local traditions drawing on conceptions of their practices as tied to the histories of broad geographical expanses such as the "South" and "America," and to specific times and places, from West Georgia in the 1970s, to Poland today.

 
Singers at Camp Fasola Europe sing "Novakoski" by P. Dan Brittain "Poland style," switching to a quicker tempo at the start of the fuging section, as Brittain had notated the song in an early manuscript copy. Chmielno, Poland, September 18, 2012. Audio recording by Jesse P. Karlsberg.
  • 1. "Poland" was so popular in in the years after its publication that residents of two Maine communities subsequently named their towns after "Poland" and another tune by Swan titled "China"—leading to the incorrect yet common assertion that both songs were named after the Maine towns, not the European and Asian countries.
Posted on February 12, 2013
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Alan Pike, Emory University; Arthur Rothstein, Photographer

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This series of photographs by Arthur Rothstein depicts men and women in canning and packing plants in Winter Haven and Fort Pierce, Florida. While photographs of agricultural work appear throughout the Library of Congress's Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives Collection, I thought that these images of Floridian workers packing and canning grapefruits and oranges were dramatically different than other, more nostalgic images of small farmers in the US South during the 1930s. Arthur Rothstein seems to have taken a particular interest in migrant workers during his time in Winter Haven and Fort Pierce, Florida in 1937.

Arthur Rothstein. Packing fruit in the packinghouse at Fort Pierce, Florida, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002342-M5.
Arthur Rothstein. Packing fruit in the packinghouse at Fort Pierce, Florida, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002342-M5.
Arthur Rothstein. Packing fruit in association packinghouse at Fort Pierce, Florida. Some migratory labor is employed here,  January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002343-M3.
Arthur Rothstein, Packing fruit in association packinghouse at Fort Pierce, Florida. Some migratory labor is employed here, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002343-M3.
Arthur Rothstein. Juicers in the grapefruit canning plant at Winter Haven, Florida. Many of these men are migrants, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002370-M2.
Arthur Rothstein, Juicers in the grapefruit canning plant at Winter Haven, Florida. Many of these men are migrants, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002370-M2.
Arthur Rothstein. Sectioners at work canning grapefruit. About half of these girls are migrants. Winter Haven, Florida, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33- 002369-M4.
Arthur Rothstein, Sectioners at work canning grapefruit. About half of these girls are migrants. Winter Haven, Florida, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33- 002369-M4.
Arthur Rothstein. At work in the grapefruit canning plant at Winter Haven, Florida, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33- 002368-M1.
Arthur Rothstein, At work in the grapefruit canning plant at Winter Haven, Florida, January 1937. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Black & White Negatives Collection, LC-USF33-002368-M1.


Posted on February 11, 2013
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Jesse P. Karlsberg, Emory University

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The Bulletin compiles news from in and around the US South. We hope these posts will provide space for lively discussion and debate regarding issues of importance to those living in and intellectually engaging with the US South.

  • In the wake of the thirty four-minute power outage that interrupted the Superbowl—held February 3, 2013 at the Superdome in New Orleans—journalists identified "last-minute, multimillion-dollar . . . upgrades to the Dome’s electrical system, intended to bolster the stadium's reliability" as potential causes. As reported in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, electrical switchgear installed during these recent repairs detected a power anomaly and triggered the shutdown. Entergy continues to investigate the "root cause" of the incident. Meanwhile, Sara Kugler noted on MSNBC because the Superdome "is both a reminder of the city’s revival after Hurricane Katrina, and the suffering and loss that happened under its roof during and after the storm," the outage brought to mind the recent outages during Hurricane Isaac and the slow and unequal pace of development of the city’s electrical grid post-Katrina.
  • Recent analysis reveals that residents of several southern states had to wait disproportionately longer to vote in the 2012 Presidential election than people from other areas. Black and Hispanic voters, Democrats and Independents, and those living in cities were three other groups that had longer waits than their counterparts (whites, Republicans, non-urban dwellers). As reported in The New York Timeslong waiting times depressed turnout in states like Florida, where residents waited an average of forty-five minutes to cast their votes. "[M]ore than 200,000 voters in Florida 'gave up in frustration,'" according to an Orlando Sentinel report. Maryland, South Carolina, and Virginia also faced long lines at the polls, and a New York Times graph reveals that seven of the eight states with the longest waiting times are in the southeast.