WHO AM I ?
Photo by Hannah Spear
I'm Joshua Wilkey. I have lived in Appalachia for all of my life, though I had no idea what that meant until recent years. I'm an historian, college administrator, amateur homesteader, and writer. My wife Betsy and I live in Whittier, North Carolina, with our two dogs and an ever-changing assortment of poultry.
If you have read any of my essays, then you know more about me than any "About Me" section could ever convey. If you haven't, I would suggest starting with "My Mother Wasn't Trash," and "You Are Not an Imposter." Those will offer some tangible insight into who I am as a human.
By training, I'm an historian with a focus on colonialism, and I teach at a small liberal arts college. When I first began studying colonialism, I finally understood Appalachia for the first time. The region makes more sense when studied as an internal colony than when studied through the lens of traditional US history.
I tend to write from an historical perspective, and my goal is to understand Appalachia and the people who live here - especially those who are impoverished - in historical context. The region has a complicated past, and in the spirit of the historians I admire most, I work every day to find, write about, and teach, a "useable past" that can help us better understand where we are and what the future can look like for us.
I do not observe from the sidelines. I have strong opinions about Appalachia, and I believe those of us who love the region are called to fight for it. Our neighbors and our communities are, in many cases, suffering. It is my hope that through this website we can work toward understanding that suffering and its root causes and work toward crafting solutions that are rooted in re-humanizing those who have long been neglected, forgotten, or invisible.
I would love to hear your thoughts about my essays. Though I am not always able to personally reply to every message because of the volume of email I receive, do know that I read each and every one. My writing and my advocacy are shaped by your stories, so please do share them. You can reach me by filling the form below.