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Cultural Pride and Shame

Now in its second issue, Elder Mountain: A Journal of Ozarks Studies editor C. D. Albin addresses the fine line, or “enduring tension between shame and pride” that is part of the “cultural complexity” of the Ozark region: ” –shame at a supposed backwardness or lack of sophistication, pride in foregoing conformity and in maintaining connections to the wisdom and folkways of past generations. The upshot is that Ozarkers, who tend to be reticent about their feelings, rarely discuss shame or pride. After all, pride itself tends to make shame a dirty word, and pride fuels resentment at a larger culture Ozarkers perceive as turning shallow notions of ‘hillbillies’ into a default joke, always good for a programmed laugh when genuine cleverness roves too taxing. Yet complaining about such portrayal can hint that one might feel ashamed or bothered by them, so little is said at all.” Except between the pages of Elder Mountain, where writers express and explore this very tension and complexity.

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