Appalachians are often stereotyped as male moonshining hillbillies of Celtic origin who smoke corncob pipes and continuously feud with their neighbors. In reality, Appalachians are a diverse group of people, including a wide range of ethnic, religious and sexual minorities as well as strong and active women. The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Gender in Appalachia (CSEGA) has a unique research mission -- it is the only Appalachian Center in the country dedicated to studying and understanding this incredible diversity.

The Rockefeller Foundation for the Humanities recognized the importance of this research in 1996 when it awarded the Center one of its prestigious scholars-in-residence grants. In 2000, CSEGA was awarded a rare second grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to continue the outstanding work of scholars at the Center. Marshall remains the only institution of higher education in the state of West Virginia to have ever received one of these grants. The scholars supported by the first grant conducted research on women banjo players, Italian coal miners, African-American Appalachian schoolteachers, Cherokee family heritage, and women workers in the glass industry.

In March 2000, CSEGA hosted a national conference on Marshall's campus where Rockefeller scholars, in addition to numerous other regional academics and community leaders, presented work related to ethnicity and gender in Appalachia. The scholars supported by the second grant conducted research on Appalachian links to Southwestern Latinos, Appalachian gays, lesbians, and bisexuals and transgendered persons, the role of African-American women in mine strikes, race and gender in the Kanawha textbook controversy, and Latina textile workers in Appalachia.

In the spring of 2003 CSEGA hosted an on-line conference-"Appalachia Wired: Webs of Diversity." This allowed an audience from around the world to hear, and participate, in the scholars' presentations.

In December of 2003, CSEGA and the Appalachia Studies Association (ASA) were awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. The Center's role in the future will expand into new areas of work in the study of ethnicity and gender in Appalachia, including a permanently endowed distinguished chair, public school teachers' conferences, and summer post doctoral research.

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