How the United States underdeveloped Appalachia
Appalachia - among the most storied and yet least understood regions in America - has long been associated with poverty and backwardness. But how did this image arise, and what exactly does it mean? In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll launches an original investigation into the history of Appalachia and its place in US history, with a special emphasis on how generations of its inhabitants lived, worked, survived, and depended on natural resources held in common.
Ramp Hollow traces the rise of the Appalachian homestead and how its self-sufficiency resisted dependence on money and the industrial society arising elsewhere in the United States - until, beginning in the 19th century, extractive industries kicked off a "scramble for Appalachia" that left struggling homesteaders dispossessed of their land. As the men disappeared into coal mines and timber camps, and their families moved into shantytowns or deeper into the mountains, the commons of Appalachia were, in effect, enclosed, and the fate of the region was sealed.
Ramp Hollow takes a provocative look at Appalachia and the workings of dispossession around the world by upending our notions about progress and development. Stoll ranges widely from literature to history to economics in order to expose a devastating process whose repercussions we still feel today.
About the Author
Steven Stoll studies the ways that people think about resources, capital, and how the economy of exchange functions within the larger economy of Earth. He is an environmental historian, but his work is related to geography, social ecology, and the political theory of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Most of Stoll's writing concerns agrarian society in the United States. He is the author of U.S. Environmentalism Since 1945 and The Great Delusion: A Mad Inventor, Death in the Tropics, and the Utopian Origins of Economic Growth. Stoll is a regular contributor to Harper's Magazine and teaches history at Fordham University.