In Whose Tennessee Mountains? Cultural Heritage Tourism on the Cumberland Trail

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Goodwin, Eric
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University Honors College Middle Tennessee State University
Since the end of the Civil War, the concept of Appalachia as an imagined cultural region in the American consciousness has created and perpetuated stereotypes that cast Appalachians as primitive, violent, and backwards. The emergence of the “hillbilly” in popular culture has served to demean and disassociate groups of people from mainstream American culture and influence tourists’ expectations when they sojourn into the Mountain South. Additionally, economies in Appalachia, whether industrial or tourism-based, have told a story of dispossession: outside enterprise has historically dominated capital in Appalachia, leading to disempowerment among working class people. The Cumberland Trail, an under-construction state scenic trail in Tennessee, exhibits potential in developing cultural heritage tourism that departs from outsider-constructed identities and instead empowers the bearers of local culture. This thesis seeks to close the gap between Appalachian studies and heritage tourism while applying concepts from both in the context of the Cumberland Trail.
Liberal Arts, heritage tourism, Tennessee, Appalachia, Appalachian studies, folklore, Cumberland Trail, human geography, hillbilly stereotype, cultural geography, culture and tourism, folk music, Campbell County, Tennessee, sustainable tourism, Anderson County, Tennessee, recreation, hiking, music trails, hillbilly music, old-time music