Lost in Transition
Removing, Resettling, and Renewing Appalachia
In Lost in Transition: Removing, Resettling, and Renewing Appalachia, Aaron D. Purcell presents a thematic and chronological exploration of twentieth-century removal and resettlement projects across southern Appalachia. The book shares complex stories of loss and recollection that have grown and evolved over time.
This edited volume contains seven case studies of public land removal actions in Virginia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, and Tennessee from the 1930s through the 1960s. Some of the removals include the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Norris Basin, Shenandoah National Park and the New River, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and the Keowee-Toxaway Project in northwestern South Carolina. Each essay asks key questions: How did governmental entities throughout the twentieth century deal with land acquisition and removal of families and communities? What do the oral histories of the families and communities, particularly from different generations, tell us about the legacies of these removals? This collection reveals confrontations between past and present, federal agencies and citizens, and the original accounts of removal and resettlement and contemporary interpretations. The result is a blending of practical historical concerns with contemporary nostalgia and romanticism, which often deepen the complexity of Appalachian cultural life.
Lost in Transition provides a nuanced and insightful study of removal and resettlement projects that applies critical analysis of fact, mythology, and storytelling. It illustrates the important role of place in southern Appalachian history. This collection is a helpful resource to anthropologists, folklorists, and Appalachian studies scholars, and a powerful volume of stories for all readers who reflect upon the importance of place and home.
AARON D. PURCELL is director of special collections and university archives at Virginia Tech. He is the author of White Collar Radicals: TVA’s Knoxville Fifteen, the New Deal, and the McCarthy Era and Arthur Morgan: A Progressive Vision for American Reform. He is also the editor of The Journal of East Tennessee History.