Article Type

Reflection Article/Manuscript


Maintaining the life of being both an academic and activist can be emotional and immensely difficult. In our efforts to achieve career advancement and to help others we may find ourselves moving between many places and living out the contradictions and tensions that result from such movement. Often forced to produce inaccessible, jargon filled articles, the majority of academics rarely find the opportunity to give back to the communities where they conduct research. How do we as academics then, come to terms with the work that we do? Can we truly be both activists and academics and, if so, in what ways?

This paper is a reflective article, interleaved with autobiographical details in hopes of enhancing my exploration of the academic-activist dichotomy. First, I examine the need for new economic development opportunities in Appalachia and explore my own attempts to document and foster alternative economic practices. Then, I highlight my own struggles as an academic, activist, and native working in Eastern Kentucky and the ways through which I attempt to blur the lines among these roles. Finally, I offer a few words to those who move from place to place in hopes of helping themselves and others. Throughout each section, I emphasize the power of place(s) in shaping my understanding of Appalachia and my duties as an academic/activist.