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Malinda Maynor Lowery Appointed CSAS Director

We are thrilled to announce Malinda Maynor Lowery as our new director as of July 1, 2017. Extending the University’s historic role as the foremost site for southern studies and inspired regional engagement, the Center for the Study of the American South nurtures rigorous scholarship, critical conversations, and creative expressions to unlock the potential of a diverse and changing South. The Center is home to the Southern Oral History Program and Southern Cultures quarterly.

Lowery is an associate professor in the Department of History. She received NEH funding for her book The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle, forthcoming from UNC Press. A member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, Lowery has produced four documentary films about Native American issues, including the award-winning In the Light of Reverence (PBS). Currently she collaborates with Durham-based Markay Media on unique southern-themed documentary film projects, including Private Violence (HBO), A Chef’s Life (PBS), and the forthcoming Road to Race Day (go90). Lowery’s first monograph, Lumbee Indians in the Jim Crow South: Race, Identity, and the Making of a Nation (UNC Press, 2010), received the Best First Book award from the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association, among other honors.

As director of the Southern Oral History Program, Lowery has long worked to advance the Center’s mission. “I am excited to help make CSAS the region’s hub for multidisciplinary, participatory research across the humanities, arts, and social sciences,” said Lowery. “CSAS is an important bridge across the University and between the University and our citizens. As we engage with issues of relevance to the contemporary South, from scholars, artists, and community partners, we will bring the past to bear on the present and future.”

“Collaboration between initiatives and units that address the South in all its complexities is essential to UNC-Chapel Hill’s future,” Lowery observed. “Such collaboration is at the heart of my fields Native American history, southern history, and American Indian and Indigenous Studies. Over the years, working with artists, archivists, librarians, and other researchers in a variety of disciplines has been central to my work. I look forward to bringing that experience to support CSAS’s vision for a more hospitable South, stimulating the growth of a creative and innovative region that becomes more inclusive.”

Lowery holds a bachelor’s degree in History and Literature from Harvard University, a master’s degree in Documentary Film Production from Stanford University, and a PhD in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her previous teaching appointments include Harvard University, North Carolina State University, Duke University, and San Francisco State University.

“We are delighted to have Professor Lowery take on this new leadership role for the Center and for the College of Arts & Sciences,” said Terry Rhodes, senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities. “A nationally recognized scholar and respected colleague in our Carolina community, she will help us take the Center and southern studies writ large to the next level.”

Lowery succeeds Kenneth Janken, who returns to his home department as professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies.

Tell About the South: Charlotte Fryar, Wed, June 7 at 12:30 pm

“Building Stone_Centera University of the People: The Movement for a Free-standing Black Cultural Center at UNC-Chapel Hill”

As the SOHP’s University History Field Scholar, Charlotte Fryar has spent the last year exploring one of UNC-Chapel Hill’s most significant movements in student activism for racial justice, which led to the creation and construction of a free-standing building for the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. The movement for a free-standing black cultural center, with its climax between 1991-93, was part of a larger and longer movement, cultivated by generations of UNC students, who organized to address the ways in which the University’s leadership has fallen short of reconciling with the racialized foundations on which the institution is built. This talk will discuss oral history interviews with alumni who were active in the movement for a free-standing Stone Center and the ways in which interviews with alumni-activists can help to clarify for both current students and administrators what is at stake in addressing University history and how to reconcile with that history in order to act justly for all members of the UNC community–in the past, present, and future.

FryarCharlotte Fryar is a PhD candidate in UNC’s Department of American Studies. She has previously served as Lab Associate for the Digital Innovation Lab and as a researcher for the Chancellor’s Task Force on University History. Her dissertation, a hybrid of digital and textual components, is titled “Building A University of the People.” It investigates the history and continued legacies of racial justice student activism at UNC-Chapel Hill from 1968 to the present as a way to examine institutional racism in and on the landscape of the University’s campus.

This event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs to will be appreciated. Light refreshments will be served.

Southern Culture Movie Series continues Thurs, June 1 at 6:30 pm


Tell About the South: Pavithra Vasudevan, Tues, May 9 at 12:30 pm

“Producing An Intimate Inventory: Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town”

This dissertation project focuses on Badin, North Carolina, a segregated company town for workers at the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), from its establishment in 1915 to present-day issues of environmental injustice.AluminumTown Vasudevan has developed a play, “Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town,” narrating the story of predominantly black West Badin with excerpts from oral histories and observation from community meetings. This talk will focus on the intimacy of racial capitalism. Industrial toxicity intimately binds race to waste, as manifested in disconcertingly familial relations in the factory, in quotidian practices of caregiving, and in affectively charged natural landscapes.

PV_photo1A PhD candidate in Geography at UNC-Chapel Hill, Pavithra Vasudevan studies the stuff of environmental justice: toxicity, racism, and social movements. She supports the North Carolina Environmental Justice Network as a member of the Planning Committee. Artistic research projects include a short film, “Remembering Kearneytown,” and “Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town,” a play illustrating 20th century racial capitalism. She is the founding co-president of the Hurston Collective for Critical Performance Ethnography at UNC-Chapel Hill and the 2016-17 McColl Fellow at the Center for the Study of the American South.

This discussion is free and open to the public, but RSVPs to are appreciated. Light refreshments will be served.

Appalachia Issue Launch Party, Thursday, May 4 at 5:30 pm

Join Appalachia_coverus at the Center to celebrate a very special issue of Southern Cultures. We’ll enjoy music by Sam Gleaves, readings by Silas House, and a mountain menu by Sherri Castle. Attendance is free and open to the public, but tickets are required for food and the issue: click here!



Born and raised in Wythe County in southwest Virginia, Sam Gleaves performs innovative mountain music with a sense of history. Sam’s performances combine traditional Appalachian ballads, dance tunes, original songs, and the stories that surround them. His debut album Ain’t We Brothers has been reviewed by National Public Radio, No Depression, and The Bluegrass Situation. Lee Smith has called the album “courageous as hell and country to the bone.”

Silas House by C. Williams

Silas House is a critically acclaimed novelist and playwright who describes the main goal of his writing as “looking into the lives of rural Americans who so often get overlooked by the media.” He currently serves as the NEH Chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. House writes that “Sam and I are passionate about giving voice to rural people, about place, and about the power of art to empower and transform. Both of us are very concerned with the rural Other, people who have a deep love for these rural places yet don’t fit in there, due to orientation, race, or other issues.”

Guest edited by Elizabeth S.D. Engelhardt, the Appalachia Issue includes Harlan County U.S.A. soundscapes, a break-up with Pearl S. Buck, musings on Dollywood & hillbilly consumerism, interviews with Appalachian “Country Queers,” and lost photos of black Asheville. Click here to subscribe or view the issue at Project Muse.