LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 7, 2014) — Dwight Billings, professor of sociology at the University of Kentucky, recently appeared as a guest on BBC World Service Radio to talk about hillbilly stereotypes. Billings says there has always been an interest in the American “other” – an interest that seems to have contrasting parts of fascination and fear.
He also went on to discuss how the stereotypes of people in Appalachia have led to making the area “a sacrifice zone” when it comes to progress in the region.
Listen to the broadcast at https://soundcloud.com/bbc-world-service/hillbilly-stereotypes.
In a career that has spanned over 40 years, Billings has written groundbreaking works on Appalachia, including the book "The Road to Poverty: the Making of Wealth and Hardship in Appalachia," for which he and co-author Kathleen M. Blee received the Weatherford Award in 2000. The book he co-edited with Katherine Ledford and Gurney Norman, "Back Talk from Appalachia: Confronting Stereotypes," has been a widely used resource in challenging stereotypes of Appalachians.
Billings was one of the founders of the UK Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program, working with colleagues to secure funding for these initiatives from the Rockefeller and Mellon Foundations and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He has served terms as research director of the Appalachian Center and as director of Appalachian Studies in the course of his career at UK.
He is currently working on a book-length analysis of class and culture in the Appalachian region. His research and teaching interests include social inequality, Appalachian and regional studies, poverty, sociological theory, and the sociology of religion.
Raised in Beckley, W.Va., Billings earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from West Virginia University in Morgantown. He earned both his master's degree and doctorate in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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