An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
Posted on August 21, 2012
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Alan G. Pike, 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.

  • South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation reached a settlement on August 20 requiring SCE&G to remove 240,000 tons of toxic coal ash from wet-storage impoundments near the Wateree River. The company must move the coal ash into lined landfill storage away from the river or have it recycled by December 31, 2020. The legal victory, secured with help from the Southern Environmental Law Center, is a major step forward in the protection of the river system, and could set a precedent for the handling of other dangerous coal ash-storage facilities in the state. 
  • As we have reported in The Bulletin before, this summer's record-setting drought has wreaked havoc on farmers and ranchers across a broad swath of the United States. On Monday the United States Department of Agriculture announced that it would buy $170 million of pork, lamb, chicken, and catfish for federal food nutrition assistance programs, including food banks and school lunch and breakfast programs. This announcment is welcome news for farmers and ranchers across the affected area whose livlihoods are seriously endangered by the dry weather. While the Midwest has been hit hardest by this year's drought, farmers and ranchers in the US South (like the catfish farmer interviewed here) have also had to deal with rising feed costs and dry fields.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) there have been 693 cases (26 deaths) of the West Nile virus disease in humans in 43 states so far this year. This number represents the highest total in late August since the CDC started tracking the disease in 1999. Over 80 percent of the cases have been reported from six states (Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and California) and almost half of all cases have been reported from Texas (as illustrated in this map). The severity of the outbreak in and around Dallas, Texas has prompted the city to declare a state of emergency and deploy pesticides across the metro region via aircraft for the first time since 1966, much to the chagrin of many residents worried about the potentially hazardous side effects of the chemicals. 
Posted on August 9, 2012
by

Alan G. Pike, Emory University

in

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 a July 31 primary election, Georgians voted down T-SPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), a penny sales-tax proposal which would have provided for various transportation projects across the state. For the first time in history, voters in the ten-county region surrounding Atlanta were asked to vote on taxes funding projects throughout the metro area. While the regional referrendum failed (62.3% to 37.7%), a closer look at a map of the voting data suggests that most Atlantans living inside the I-285 perimeter voted in favor of the bill, with residents of the city of Atlanta voting in favor of the bill 60% to 40%. The outcome of this ballot initiative has left some observers wondering if "Metro-Atlanta" even exists and whether or not Atlanta residents should seek to enact transportation changes without the help of the surrounding region in the future.
  • On August 7, seven-hundred members of the United Steelworkers Local 5668 who work for the Constellium rolled aluminum plant in Ravenswood, West Virginia went on strike. The workers voted to strike after failing to reach an agreement with the company on a new collective bargaining contract. Specifically, the workers are unwilling to accept the reduction of health care benefits proposed by the company. The importance of the plant to the economic vitality of the town, and the importance of healthcare benefits to its workers recalls a similar relationship in nearby east Kentucky documented by photographer Earl Dotter in his 2008 Southern Spaces photo essay "Coalfield Generations: Health, Mining, and the Environment."
Posted on August 7, 2012
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Allen Tullos, Emory University

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Cover of Main Street and Empire by Ryan Poll, 2012.

From the beginning of Southern Spaces in 2004, we've understood this journal as participating in critical regional studies. Southern Spaces publishes work that represents and analyzes many souths and southern regions, offers critical scrutiny of any monolithic "South," interrogates historical developments and geographies over time, and maps expressive cultural forms associated with place. Perhaps our blog can serve as a site which takes notice of work in critical regionalism, wherever we find it. In the following excerpt from Main Street and Empire (Rutgers, 2012), a study of how the historical imaginary of the US small town contributes to the ideology of American empire, author Ryan Poll offers a quick overview of the term:

At the conclusion of his canonical essay, "The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism," Fredric Jameson articulates what remains one of the most pressing challenges to aesthetic producers and critics: to develop texts that can help subjects understand and narrate how their everyday, local lives and spaces are dialectically bound to and enabled by global relations. Similarly the geography theorist and scholar Doreen Massey emphasizes the need to develop a "global sense of place." This project of thinking about the complex imbrications between the local and the global is one of the more productive developments in literary and cultural studies. In his 2001 article "Glocal Knowledges," the comparative literature scholar Robert Eric Livingston writes, "To grasp the scenarios of globalization requires resisting the impulse to set global and local into immediate opposition. Their intertwining may be made more helpfully understood [by means of the neologism ‘glocal,’ a concept that] . . . has the advantage not only of making visible the mutual articulation of our two spatial coordinates, but also of insisting, neologically, on the need for a more careful rereading of the means of articulation." One of the most exciting interdisciplinary means for thinking about the relation between the local and the global is "critical regionalism." The term, coined in the field of architecture in the early 1980s, challenges the dominant "fictions of globalization" (such as the global village) and instead uses local and regional sources to produce new narratives and geographic imaginaries by which to historicize and specify globalization. By attending to the local and the regional, we can see globalization not as a singular imaginary or community, but as a nuanced, complex, contradictory, and historically material process that is narrated and imagined differently depending on an individual’s—and a community’s—spatial location and position. In her important study, Critical Regionalism and Cultural Studies (1996), the literary scholar Cheryl Temple Herr writes, "Critical-regionalist-cultural studies has great potential for producing a unified but highly adaptive analysis of international flows at the local-regional level, towards the end of a more heterogeneous and tolerant future." Edward Watts, a scholar of American thought and language, writes that critical regionalism offers students a rich and robust methodology for thinking about globalization. . . . "We might," Watts offers, "teach our students to consider a text’s geographic placement as providing a nexus between the specificities of that setting and the larger issues at stake" (164).

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Posted on August 2, 2012
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Louis Fagnan, Emory University

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In this short interview, historian Joseph Crespino discusses his new book, Strom Thurmond's America (New York: Hill and Wang, 2012), a political biography of South Carolina politician Strom Thurmond. Crespino explains how his book challenges the traditional view of Strom Thurmond's politics. He also argues that Thurmond became an "establishment Republican" in the 1980s, and his moderate stance would probably lead him to be run-out of the current Republican Party. Finally, Crespino addresses the controversial topic of Thurmond's African American daughter.

Emory University, Expert Conversations on Strom Thurmond, 2012.
Posted on July 31, 2012
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Allen Tullos, Emory University

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Thelma Glass.

Thelma McWilliams Glass died on July 24, 2012 at age ninety-six. She was the last surviving member of the Women’s Political Council (WPC), a group of African American women in Montgomery, Alabama, who helped organize the 1955–56 bus boycott. Glass taught geography at Alabama State University from the late 1940s until she retired in 1981.

For more about Thelma Glass, read the biographical sketch in the Montgomery Advertiser by Erica Pippins. See David J. Garrow, "The Origins of the Montgomery Bus Boycott," Southern Changes 7, no. 5 (1985), for an overview of the WPC’s role in the boycott, a key event in the modern civil rights movement.

Posted on July 26, 2012
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Chuck Simmins, Photographer

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Chuck Simmins, Louisiana National Guardmen observe as water from the industrial canal overtops the levees, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 2008.
The Louisiana National Guard set up a road block in the Upper Ninth Ward during Hurricane Gustav, September 1, 2008. In this photograph, two Guardsmen located on the Claiborne Avenue Bridge observe as water from the industrial canal overtops the levees and pours onto the city.