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The Center for the Study of the American South (CSAS) is an academic organization dedicated to the study of "southern history, literature, and culture as well as ongoing social, political, and economic issues" at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[1]



The CSAS was the brainchild of a working group of faculty at UNC's Institute for Research in Social Science, a group that included IRSS director John Shelton Reed (William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology at UNC) and David Moltke-Hansen (curator of the Southern Historical Collection at UNC's Wilson Library). This group recognized the value of an umbrella organization that could help professors researching Southern Studies to communicate, collaborate, and combine resources. They presented their idea to the UNC Board of Governors, which established the CSAS in 1992 with Reed as acting director, until he was succeeded by Moltke-Hansen. Harry Watson, professor of history at UNC, has been the director of the CSAS since 1999.[2]

Mission statement

The stated mission of the CSAS is

to extend the historic role of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as the world's premier institution for research, teaching, and public dialogue on the history, culture, and contemporary experience of the American South. The Center is the University's primary vehicle to promote initiatives in this tradition of regional service and scholarship.[3]

Primary activities

The primary focus of the CSAS is supporting inter-departmental research within UNC and disseminating the results. The Center funds and promotes many activities, including the publication of the quarterly journal Southern Cultures, edited originally by Reed and Watson, now edited by Watson and Larry Griffin, professor of sociology at UNC.


Over 60 UNC faculty members are associated with the CSAS, from disciplines including African American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology, Archeology, Creative Writing, English Studies, Folklore, Geography, History, Music, Political Science, Religious Studies, and Sociology. Examples includes Philip F. Gura (American Studies), who studies banjo music in the nineteenth century, and Jocelyn R. Neal (Music), who studies country music and dance.

In addition, the CSAS hosts professors from outside universities, including Timothy McCarthy from Harvard University, and Norio Hirose from the School of Law at Kwansei Gakuin University in Nishinomiya, providing them with complete access to UNC's resources and professors to aid in collaborative research.

Public awareness

The CSAS also houses and supports the Program for Public Life, a group dedicated to raising public awareness of political issues in the South[4], and the Southern Oral History Program.


  1. ^ "Center for the Study of the American South". UNC Center for the Study of the American South. Retrieved 2008-05-14.  
  2. ^ "Center for the Study of the American South Factfinder" (PDF). UNC Office of University Development. Retrieved 2008-05-14.  
  3. ^ "Center Mission". UNC Center for the Study of the American South. Retrieved 2008-05-14.  
  4. ^ "Program on Public Life". UNC Center for the Study of the American South. Retrieved 2008-05-14.  



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