This Appalachia Life by Joshua Wilkey

Poor great dads can’t do this.

March 15, 2019/Joshua Wilkey

Some daddies can take better care of their babies than others because some daddies aren’t poor and some are.

I can tell already that people perceive me to be a good daddy at least in part because of what I can provide for my son and the time he and I are able to s…

I know a colonizer when I see one

January 23, 2019/Joshua Wilkey

I recognized his smirk right away, because it’s the smirk of a colonizer. It’s a smirk that, I’m ashamed to say, I have worn myself more than once in my lifetime.

By now, most anyone with access to the internet has read something about the recent interaction between Na…

Finding My Way Back Home

January 19, 2019 | Joshua Wilkey

Growing up, I lived in a whole lot of different houses, but I never really lived in a home.

There was one place, however, that always felt like home. No matter how unstable my life was, I always felt like I was going home when I went to stay with my Mamaw and Papaw Wilk…

October 18, 2018/Joshua Wilkey

“I believe those dogs belong at that trailer up Beck Branch. The one with the goat tied up out front and the Confederate flag in the tree.”

I typed those words just yesterday on a Facebook post from a friend and neighbor who encountered two stray dogs near her home. I d…

A Fall Break Reading List

October 16, 2018


Joshua Wilkey

I haven’t published a reading list in ages, but I have been doing plenty of reading nonetheless.

I am on Fall Break this week. This might be obvious to regular readers of my blog since I have written two essays back to back for the first time since the summer. I’m also…

On Gender and Impending Fatherhood

October 15, 2018


Joshua Wilkey

Gender is a social construct.

I don’t consider that statement to be political in nature. It is rooted in empirical research and observable fact. However, as I move into my new role as a father, I have been surprised how conversations about the “gender” of Baby Aspinwilk…

Misogyny is a core part of Fundamentalist Christianity. Kavanaugh’s confirmation is proof.

October 9, 2018


Joshua Wilkey

I grew up in a religious tradition that pretended to honor women while systematically subjugating them.

For this reason, I am not surprised at all that conservative evangelicals, including women, so resoundingly support a man who was accused of sexual assault by an utt…

My Favorite Books

July 22, 2018


Joshua Wilkey

Recently, I have enjoyed seeing folks on Facebook share their favorite books. I have always contended that one can tell much about another by the books they read. One of my favorite ways of getting to know my students, for example, is to ask what they are reading. The…

You Are Not An Impostor

July 18, 2018


Joshua Wilkey

You belong here.

If these three words are aimed at you, chances are, you knew it right away when you read them. If you are preparing for college and questioning whether or not you deserve to be there, these words are for you. If you are returning to school after a long…

I Remember the Day I Became My Mother’s Keeper

June 28, 2018


Joshua Wilkey

Last week, on the second anniversary of my mother’s death, I took some time to think about the special bond we shared. I have often said that, somewhere along the way, we switched roles. Last summer, I wrote much of the essay that follows, describing the time in our li…

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Buy Joshua’s Book Here:




Joshua Wilkey

This Appalacia Life is written by Joshua Wilkey.  Joshua writes about Appalachia with a particular focus on the region’s long struggle with poverty.  In Joshua’s words,

“The parts of my identity most important to me can be summed up with a list: husband, Lutheran Christian, educator, historian, dog dad, writer, homesteader, woodturner, environmentalist, and social justice activist.​

A lifelong resident of Appalachia, I currently reside in western North Carolina with my wife Betsy, our three dogs, and a quirky assortment of fowl. We live on an old homestead in the Whittier community, where we grow our own organic vegetables and eggs.

By training, I’m an historian with a focus on modern United States history, and I teach at a small liberal arts college that focuses on experiential education. In addition to my work as a professor, I am also a woodturner, specializing in pens, bowls, and pepper mills.

I tend to write from an historical perspective, and my goal is to understand Appalachia and the people who live here – especially those who are impoverished – in historical context. The region has a complicated past, and in the spirit of the historians I admire most, I work every day to find, write about, and teach a “useable past” that can help us better understand where we are and what the future can look like for us.

If you have read any of my essays, you likely already know that I do not observe from the sidelines. I have strong opinions about Appalachia, and I believe those of us who love the region are called to fight for it. Our neighbors and our communities are, in many cases, suffering. It is my hope that through this website we can work toward understanding that suffering and its root causes and work toward crafting solutions that are rooted in re-humanizing those who have long been neglected, forgotten, or invisible.


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