CRRES Visiting Scholar Tina Irvine (History) recently received the William F. Holmes Award from the Southern Historical Association (SHA). The William F. Holmes Award recognizes the best paper presented at the SHA annual meeting by a graduate student or junior faculty member.
Presenting the award, Dr. Hilary Green (University of Alabama) shared:
"After carefully reviewing the submissions, the committee were unanimous in selecting Tina A. Irvine as the recipient of the William F. Holmes Award. In her provocative paper 'American Type and American Folk: White Mountaineers and the Redemption of Modern America, 1890–1930,' Irvine explores the the evolution of Appalachian identification from Jim Crow to the Great Depression. She argues that elite white reformers captured everyday mountain people whom they saw as white in a terrible double bind. On the one hand, intellectuals needed to explain the Appalachian's worth in terms of their undisturbed quintessence. As a pure "type" of American, Irvine shows how intellectuals held a germ of settler colonial civilization with deep ties to racialized ideas about unique European capacities for self-government. On the other hand, early social scientists also needed Appalachians to be America's 'folk,' those craft laborers unadulterated by modernity. Institutions and philanthropists wanted to see mountaineers at the loom, in the woodshop, plowing the field—despite their demonstrated desires for mail-order clothes and industrial wage labor. No one wins in this elite scheme of 'mountain uplift,' Irvine argues, but it is the paradigm that Jim Crow whiteness bequeathed to the southern mountains. Recognizing both scholarly trends and popular interest in the region, Irvine’s novel approach offers fresh and compelling insights."
Dr. Irvine is a 2022 ACLS Fellow working on her project "Americanizing Appalachia: Mountain Reform and the Pursuit of a White American Identity, 1890-1933." Her research analyzes understandings of Appalachians or "mountain whites" in the early twentieth century, revealing how Americans came to see Appalachians’ reform as critical to a larger project of creating a homogenous white democracy.
Congratulations Dr. Irvine!