The death culture of Southern Appalachia
Annis, Karissa. 2018. The death culture of Southern Appalachia-- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.48, p.1-13
The region of Southern Appalachia is rich with tradition and custom going back to the inhabitants' homelands. Southern Appalachia is a unique place with a distinct culture formed by immigrating pioneers. Despite opposition from the environment and the Native Americans living in the area at the time, these pioneers created their own communities (Taggart 2006:656-657). The Scotch-Irish formed a large part of these immigrants, and their traditions continue today. However, they were not the only immigrants, and it was only through the combined traditions of multiple ethnicities and the creation of new traditions. These traditions created the distinctive culture among modern Southern Appalachia. One cultural distinction is their death culture. The death culture in Southern Appalachia is intuitive not just of their origins but of the immigrants themselves. This paper will explore the death culture first by outlining the history of the Scotch-Irish immigration into Appalachia, as well as some of the other dominant immigrants. Then, the paper will focus in on aspects of the death culture such as funeral traditions, cemeteries and gravestone patterns, the attitude toward death, and the effects of commercialization in the region.