Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The American South in a Global World

Academic journal article The Arkansas Historical Quarterly

The American South in a Global World

Article excerpt

The American South in a Global World. Edited by James L. Peacock, Harry L. Watson, and Carrie R. Matthews. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005. Pp. vii, 299. Acknowledgments, tables, notes, references, contributors, index. $59.95, cloth; $24.95, paper.)

If you don't know where you are, states Wendell Berry, you don't know who you are. A sense of place infuses the southern literature of writers like Eudora Welty and William Faulkner as well as the music of their counterparts B. B. King and June Carter. Likewise, a lingering sense of difference combined with a strong sense of regional place resounds in studies of the American South. Southerners have also lived with a palpable fear of the South's impending demise, but globalization will not occasion the melancholy dirge anytime soon. A southern sense of place has proved as resilient and adaptive to it as to the earlier pressures of industrialization and urbanization. The American South in a Global World, edited by James L. Peacock, Harry L. Watson, and Carrie R. Matthews, sets out to bust the myth of "the legendary South of two isolated and homogenous races" and argues that the American South, though transformed by the forces of globalization, continues to display distinct regional qualities (p. 1).

The book comprises fifteen case studies, introduced by the editors, and three epilogues that reflect on the collection's main themes and future direction of transnational southern studies. Most of the contributors are anthropologists, but scholars from economics, journalism, history, and cultural studies round out the list. The anthology is the product of a series of Rockefeller-funded seminars on the globalizing South at the University of North Carolina. Indeed, the book's main weakness is that more than half of the studies focus on North Carolina, a state that may not be an appropriate model for other parts of the South. The book is organized around five sections-Immigration; Global/Local Conjunctions; Globalism's Localisms: Industry and Workers; Flexible Citizenship: Transnational Professionals; and Application: Activist Approaches to the Transnational South.

Most contributors recast the American South away from a biracial identity toward a multicultural community distinguished by its link to global modes of production and transnational migrations. Latinos lead this wave of demographic change, but they are joined by Japanese, Indonesian, and Indian immigrants. …

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