Notions of Nations: Exploring the Bluegrass Nation as an Imagined Community

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Jordan Laney (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Nancy Love

Abstract: While bluegrass music has been a topic of conversation within the discipline of Appalachian Studies, research concerning the emergence of the community in cyberspace is relatively rare. Appalachian music’s role as a transnational facilitator is groundbreaking in areas of social networking, and as a member of the bluegrass community. Noting that music is what brings these individuals together, this study addresses ways in which the bluegrass community embodies an imagined community and uses political language to gather in cyberspace. The study is not meant to discredit the direct ties the music has to Appalachia, but rather to applaud and understand the work of enthusiasts in the field who have found ways to mobilize the music through the Internet. By researching the history of the bluegrass community’s communication through media and the shifts in the group’s lexicon with regard to its collective identity, politics, and relationship to the rest of the world, this study allows for a new understanding of music rooted in Appalachia, not in aesthetic terms, but through its community-building power and potential. There is much to be discovered and celebrated, not only about the sounds and musical innovations that have stemmed from bluegrass, but also about the ways in which Appalachian music provides both a window into American culture and an adaptable populist identity that people all over the world can celebrate and rally around. I approach this work with hopes of understanding the “bluegrass in each of us,” as Saburo Watanabe describes the feeling of belonging that surrounds and secures the bluegrass community. This research is conducted in the hopes of exploring how communities gather, the shifting relationship between music, identity, and place and to further examine the possibilities of cyberspace for traditional communities.

Additional Information

Laney, J. (2013). Notions of Nations: Exploring the Bluegrass Nation as an Imagined Community. Unpublished master’s thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2013
Bluegrass Music, Online Communities, Political Theory, Appalachian Music

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