At least 25 individuals from the Northern Kentucky – Cincinnati – Dayton/Miami Valley Area will be presenters at the 43rd Annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference which will convene in Lexington, March 13-15.  These presenters are coming from 11 different universities, networks, and community organizations.  They include academics from various disciplines, writers and poets, high school and college students, and young social network activists fighting stereotypes and addressing social justice concerns of rural and urban Appalachians.

Pictured: Literary reading at the 2018 ASA Conference in Cincinnati

The annual Appalachian Studies Association Conference is a gathering of academics who come and present scholarly papers and panels where topics and issues can be explored; it is place where activists can come and be both learners and teachers of the scholars; it is a place where artists, writers, poets, and folklorists share Appalachian traditions and innovations; it is a place where booksellers can show off their latest publications and community-based organizations can use the Exhibit Hall to tell the story of their work.  It is a grand family reunion for up to 1,000 people who share a passion for things Appalachian.  Sometimes we even fight over who speakers for Appalachia or some slice of it.

The people from our area of the Appalachian world will add energy, art, and excitement to this year’s conference.  Here is some of what you can expect.

UACC Leaders

Core Member Pauletta Hansel is involved in two panels.  “Readings from the Understories of Identity and Place” will include her reading of an excerpt from her essay, “My Father, J.D. Vance, and Me,” soon to be published in the Appalachian Journal. (Saturday 8:30) Urban Appalachian John Ray also reads.  Pauletta also serves as convener for “A Reading from Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel Volume 22: Appalachia (Un)Broken.”  UACC Steward Scott Goebel also reads in this session (Friday, 10 am).

Omope Carter Daboiku of Homeside, Ltd. and member of the UACC Core+ team and president of the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Branch in Dayton will do a presentation on the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, founder of the African American History movement.  This happens Friday at 10 am as a panel on “Minority Representation in History and Education.”

Matthew Smith and Ashley Hopkins, leaders of Appalachian studies at Miami University will convene a dialog on the importance of place-based education and some historical background on the Appalachian communities in Hamilton and Middletown (Saturday, 2:30 pm).

Pictured: Ashley Hopkins, leader of Appalachian Studies at Miami University and UACC chair of Research Committee

Ashley, chair of the UACC Research Committee also is a presenter in “Expatalachians: 21st Century Appalachian Migrant Perspectives” convened by Nicholas Brumfield and other young expat leaders (Friday, 10 am).

Thomas More University

Cincinnati writer and poet Richard Hague is convener of “The Riparian Way: Giving Voice to the Ohio River Through Literature, Music and Images.  Performers include Sherry Cook Stanforth of Thomas More University, her Tellico Family Band and a passel of Stanforths and Cutforths, Cooks and Carruses.  (Sunday, 10 am). Richard and Sherry are both UACC Stewards. Richard Hague is also a presenter in a panel on the “Poetry of the Appalachian North” (Friday, 10 am).

Northern Kentucky University

Kristine Yohe of Northern Kentucky University will present “Teaching Affrilachian Literature to Transgress: Voices from the Black Appalachian Understory” in a panel on “Teaching Affrilachian Literature” (Friday, 3:30 pm).

Rebecca Bailey of Northern Kentucky University will present a paper on dialect from the Matewan Oral History Project (Saturday, 8:30 am).

University of Cincinnati

Two University of Cincinnati people, Chelsea Ensley and Lauren Colley, will present in “Appalachia in the Classroom” (Saturday, 10 am).  Samantha NeCamp also of UC will present in a panel on “Writing Appalachia” (Saturday, 2:30 pm).  Rhonda Pettit, UC Blue Ash, will read “Poems from “The Beginning Shall Be Called and Known” in a performance on Sunday, 10 am.

Gary Vaughn, also of UC, is part of a panel “Leaving Appalachia.”  His topic is “You Can Take Me Out of Appalachia, but You Can’t Take Appalachia Out of Me” (Sunday, 10 am).

UACC Involvement

In 2018, the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition was the first community organization to host this longstanding academic conference, which was held in downtown Cincinnati—only the second time the conference was outside the bounds of the Appalachian region. This work was an incredible opportunity to both galvanize our own urban Appalachian community and make meaningful connections with the region. We showcased our urban Appalachian performing and literary artists, increased awareness of UACC both locally and nationally,  explored urban issues such as gentrification, nurtured new and established friendships and continued to build our infrastructure with more robust financial support, an updated mailing list, and a vastly increased roster of potential volunteers. Our goal was also to increase local community involvement and leadership in the conference, and we are pleased to see this level of Cincinnati area participation in this year’s conference, a short drive from Cincinnati. We encourage you to attend!

About This Year’s Conference

43rd Annual Appalachian Studies Conference: Appalachian Understories, March 12-15, 2020, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky will bring to light the many voices of Appalachia that are often obscured. In the understories, people confront stereotypes, myths, marginalization, and violence and meet them with resilience and hope. In addition to native forests and forest-based human experiences, this gathering will highlight stories of Black Appalachians, women, gender, and sexuality, health and healing, and hope spots. Oral history and film-making, along with literature, music, photography, and other art forms, will be among our featured “understories” exploration methods. We also celebrate Appalshop’s 50th anniversary, revisiting the Whitesburg studio’s important documentary legacy and learning about the “understories” it continues to produce today. Like the forest that inspires us, and like the 42 previous ASA conferences, this gathering offers growth, beauty, hope, and nourishment. Joining these on-campus events are off-campus field trips, events, activities, and performances. Registration and information at

Michael Maloney is a community organizer, social researcher and consultant to non-profit organizations.  He is best known for his founding role with the Urban Appalachian Council and the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition and as an activist, leader, teacher, and writer for the urban Appalachian part of the Appalachian movement.  He has also served in leadership positions in the Council of the Southern Mountains, Episcopal Appalachian Ministries and the Appalachian Development Projects Committee.

One thought on “Cincinnati’s Participation in ASA by Michael Maloney

  1. Your blog said the 2020 Ohio Sacred Harp Convention would be at the Hoffner Lodge in Northside. It was actually at a church by Washington Park in Over The Rhine. We eventually found it.

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