Tobacco Town Futures: Global Encounters in Rural Kentucky by Ann E. Kingsolver
183 pages, $25.95 list
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Tobacco Town Futures
Global Encounters in Rural Kentucky
Situated between the foothills of Appalachia to the east and bluegrass country to the west, Nicholas County has been home to small tobacco farms in rural Kentucky for the past 200 years. But now, in the midst of tremendous economic changes generated by the movement of both textile jobs and tobacco production to other countries, residents of Nicholas County face an uncertain future.

Based on twenty-five years of research, Kingsolver’s longitudinal ethnography of Nicholas County, her home community, synthesizes geographical, historical, economic, and political processes that have shaped lifeways and worldviews. She documents the perspectives of farmers, factory workers, politicians, those pursuing new niches in the labor market, and middle school students in search of “alternative futures.” Countering stereotypes, Kingsolver emphasizes the skills and agency of rural residents and demonstrates how people in widely dispersed and seemingly isolated communities in the world are connected through capitalist logic and practice, thereby illuminating globalization’s far-reaching effects.
“This book is excellent in so many ways. It’s anthropology at its core: long-term ethnography with myriad voices emerging from multiple levels of our now-global countrysides.” — James Verinis, Queensborough Community College

“. . . a unique tour-de-force that should be valuable to a variety of stakeholders, scholars, and others.” — Appalachian Heritage

“Kingsolver is a native ethnographer, whose commitment to long-term research among her friends, neighbors, and relatives has contributed greatly to anthropological theory. In this book, she builds upon that contribution by offering greater insight into and a richer understanding of her community, both for us and for them.” —Culture, Agriculture, Food and Environment
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Stories of Globalization in a Tobacco Town
Fieldwork in Nicholas County / “Placing” a Kentucky Community / Rurality and Farming Identity and Practices / Development: Planning for Tobacco Town Futures / Documentation Dilemmas in this Project / The Landscape of This Book / Questions for Students

2. Tobacco: A Global Crop
An Afternoon in Tobacco in 1988: Storm Coming / Tobacco: Local Leaves in a Global Commodities and Labor Market / “Tobacco Town” Livelihoods / Moralizing Tobacco / Changes in the National Tobacco Program and Global Industry / Questions for Students

3. Development Plans: Living on the Edge
A Proposal Ahead of Its Time / State-led Development Planning / Textiles / Toyota / Tourism / Working the Edge: Joining Appalachia / Commodifying Rurality / Developing Agricultural Alternatives / Questions for Students

4. How to Live in a Small Town
Incorporating Diversity / Networks, for Better or Worse, and the Role of Media / Civic Participation / Flexible Justice / Sites of Socialization / Global Encounters / Questions for Students

5. Tobacco Town Futures
Loretta Mann / Mike Phillips / Betty Gates Poe / Jim and Kathy Caswell / Three Springs Farm: David Wagoner and Arwen Donahue

Postscript: Student Essays on the Future of Nicholas County