New center to preserve heritage
of South Atlantic regions culture
By Robert Brickhouse
Virginia Tech, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities
are joining forces to establish a center that has the potential
to preserve the South Atlantic regions colorful heritage
while also promoting tourism and economic development. The southeastern
region-wide cultural consortium will aim to engage hundreds of
communities, universities, schools, private organizations and
governments in preserving and celebrating local and regional identities
and educating the public about them. The presidents of the three
institutions announced details of the effort Feb. 26.
the same chain stores and fast-food outlets dotting the landscape,
the same Hollywood movies playing in every town, and the same
national television programs in every home, the South Atlantic
Regional Humanities Center (SARHC) aims to work to keep the historic
and diverse southeastern United States from losing its distinctiveness.
by the National Endowment for the Humanities and governed by a
region-wide advisory board, SARHC will serve Florida, Georgia,
North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, the Virgin Islands
and Virginia with a wide range of programs that focus on the promotion
of regional history and the study of regional cultures, said Virginia
Tech President Charles W. Steger. This csollaboration between
the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the University of
Virginia and Virginia Tech will serve as a model for the rest
of the region and the nation as we pool resources to further the
appreciation and knowledge of the South Atlantic, he said.
center will be headquartered in Charlottesville, under management
by VFH, U.Va. and Virginia Tech, who were jointly awarded a grant
of $379,000 from NEH to establish the center after two-and-a-half
years of intensive planning and a competitive application process.
The grant must be matched by triple the amount in three years,
with 80 percent earmarked for a permanent endowment.
South Atlantic, the region of our countrys earliest settlement,
holds a central place in our continuing national story,
said U.Va. President John T. Casteen III. But the distinctiveness
of regional identity across the country seems to be receding everywhere.
To fail to recognize the very real influences of region in our
lives is to admit gaps in our knowledge of ourselves.
of eight regional centers being established around the country
by NEH, the South Atlantic center will use the regions extensive
cultural resources to develop a range of programs, publications
and digital libraries for Internet research, said VFH president
Robert C. Vaughan, who will direct the center. These will
address the history, folkways, languages and literature, archaeology
and architecture, arts and culture, and the technology and economy
of the region. Programs will be aimed at students of all ages
and teachers of all levels, as well as travelers interested in
cultural tourism and anyone interested in the humanities and the
regional and local identities should also have economic benefits
by encouraging tourism and emphasizing the regions distinctive
qualities, Vaughan said.
of the three founding institutions is contributing faculty and
staff, fund raising, libraries, research centers and technology.
initial programs and research will focus on: settlement and migration;
race and identity; cultures and traditions; technology and social
change; economy and power; and landscape and environment. The
center will explore the encounter between Native Americans and
Europeans, the roots of the African slave trade, and the effects
of various wars including the Civil War, as well as the regions
future as a dynamic new economic and cultural center.
South Atlantic is farms and businesses, people and troubles brought
together by trade, the accidents of history, and the confluence
of oceans and mountains, said Andrew S. Chancey, the consortiums
assistant director and one of its chief organizers.
a world continually drawn together by travel, telecommunications,
mobility and a global economy, it is easy to overlook the importance
of local experiences to our heritage and daily lives, Chancey
said. The South Atlantic Regional Humanities Center will
aim to keep this heritage vital and strong.
more details, see the SARHC Web site under development at http://scholar.lib.