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Call for Papers

Speculative Appalachian Futures

West Virginia University Campus, Morgantown WV
April 2 & 3, 2020

The Speculative Appalachian Futures mini-conference asks how we can visualize, imagine, create, and enact Appalachian futures that speak to the diverse and innovative cultures of the region and bring them to the forefront of discussions of what it means to be Appalachian. 

How might deeper engagement with Frank X. Walker’s “Affrilachia” model the possibility for “Indigilachia,” “Mexilachia,” or “Islamolachia”?  Can @QueerAppalachia’s praxis of direct and mutual aid for rural LGBTQ+ communities open spaces for local communities who have been marginalized by organizations and government agencies?  What role will the traditional practices of European settler-colonists and their descendants play in the future of the Appalachian region? 

In a collaboration between the WVU Humanities Center and the WVU Libraries, this mini-conference takes a multi-disciplinary and activist approach that centers humanistic inquiry and the creative works of communities. It will provide a venue for people to collaboratively speculate about rewriting and transcending limiting definitions of what it means to be Appalachian and how to create space for individual and collective agency toward opportunity.   

Presentations might address: How can visual, literary, verbal, musical, and digital storytelling practices help us exchange ideas and make sense of the past and present while ushering in the future?  How can our relationships to Appalachian agriculture, through foodways, their histories, access and equity to food, collecting cookbooks and heirloom seeds, and integrating farm to fashion connect us to a diversity of rich cultures and point to new ways of being? How might recognizing our past relationships to the environment and reimagining our future relationships offer new ways of thinking about ourselves or offer expanded opportunities? 

Proposals for papers are open to researchers and creative practitioners approaching the above from a humanistic or creative perspective and are now being accepted for individual or group presentations.  

Proposal submissions will require: 

1) an abstract or summary of up to 250 words

2) the contact information for each participant

3) a notice of any special requirements

4) a short biography of up to 150 words for each participant

Deadline: November 30, 2019 at midnight

Response to applicants: December 21, 2019

Our commitment to participation by under-represented groups and to social justice and equity means that the Speculative Appalachian Futures conference will not charge a registration fee. 

Please see the WVU Humanities Center page for the Speculative Appalachian Futures mini-conference for more information.  To submit your abstract or summary go to the Submissions Portal


An abstract is approximately 250 words that briefly summarizes your scholarly research. Your abstract (and your presentation) should:

  • State the purpose of the work. Explain why we should care.
  • What are the objectives or problem(s) to be solved?
  • What approach or methods were used to solve it?
  • What are your results or conclusions?
  • What are the implications? 


A summary is approximately 250 words that briefly describes your work that is largely based on experiential knowledge and/or creative expression. Your summary should highlight the way in which your submission might accomplish the following:

  • Facilitate connections and collaborations with other organizations, groups, and movements.
  • Engage with regional needs and diverse populations.
  • Promote dialogue, teaching and education, creative expression, and/or action among a diverse and inclusive communities.
  • Transcending limiting definitions of what it means to be Appalachian.
  • Create space for individual and collective agency toward opportunity.

Co-authors sharing a presenter’s fifteen-minute presentation time must be identified in paper proposals as participants. Choose Individual Presentation for Individual papers with one presenter; choose Group Presentation for individual papers with more than one presenter.

The conference is in conjunction with the WVU Libraries’ Appalachian Futures multidisciplinary exhibition with contributions from over 40 regional scholars and artists.

For more information contact: Rhonda Reymond, Interim Director of the WVU Humanities Center at