Gone Home

Race and Roots through Appalachia

By Karida L. Brown

264 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 halftones, 2 tables, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6606-8
    Published: August 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-4703-6
    Published: September 2018
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-4704-3
    Published: August 2018
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-5546-6
    Published: August 2018

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Awards & distinctions

2019 Mary Douglas Prize for Best Book in the Sociology of Culture, Section on Culture, American Sociological Association

2019 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Book Award, Race, Gender, and Class Section, American Sociological Association

Finalist, 2019 PROSE Award in Anthropology, Criminology, and Sociology, Association of American Publishers

Runner-Up, 2018 Weatherford Award for Nonfiction, Berea College and Appalachian Studies Association

Honorable Mention, Otis Dudley Duncan Award, Sociology of Population Section, American Sociological Association

Since the 2016 presidential election, Americans have witnessed countless stories about Appalachia: its changing political leanings, its opioid crisis, its increasing joblessness, and its declining population. These stories, however, largely ignore black Appalachian lives. Karida L. Brown’s Gone Home offers a much-needed corrective to the current whitewashing of Appalachia. In telling the stories of African Americans living and working in Appalachian coal towns, Brown offers a sweeping look at race, identity, changes in politics and policy, and black migration in the region and beyond.

Drawn from over 150 original oral history interviews with former and current residents of Harlan County, Kentucky, Brown shows that as the nation experienced enormous transformation from the pre- to the post-civil rights era, so too did black Americans. In reconstructing the life histories of black coal miners, Brown shows the mutable and shifting nature of collective identity, the struggles of labor and representation, and that Appalachia is far more diverse than you think.

About the Author

Karida L. Brown is assistant professor of sociology and African American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

For more information about Karida L. Brown, visit the Author Page.


“In this tale of the collective African-American search for a place to call home, Brown provides an insightful look at 20th-century American culture.”--Publishers Weekly

“Karida L. Brown’s work continues to complicate Appalachian history by surveying the lived experiences of black residents in Harlan County, Kentucky. . . . The personal stories of black Appalachians provide useful data for seasoned researchers.”--Journal of Southern History

“Brown is an engaging writer . . . This book provides insight into the interconnected issues of identity formation, social and geographic mobility, and the concept of homeplace, along with the effects of quality education and the movement of civil rights. Gone Home: Race and Roots through Appalachia does all of this superbly.”--Journal of Appalachian Studies

“Engaging. . . . By helping to make visible a population too long neglected, Karida L. Brown is doing work that is especially important today.”--American Historical Review

“Like the best of such case studies, Brown’s intimate portrait of African Americans’ ties to a single place—much of it cast in the form of “back home” nostalgia—tells us much about their resilience and resourcefulness.”--Journal of American History

“In Gone Home, Brown fills the pages with stories of people who lived in Benham and Lynch; she uses many of their own words to express their lived experiences. In combining historical and sociological methodologies, Brown successfully shows that although physical elements of these Black communities in Appalachia have largely disappeared, the communities themselves still thrive in migrants’ memories and their continued connections with one another.”--Journal of African American History