JTPP Vol 3, No 1 (February 2021) Article # 2


Deals with the complex interplay between healing and justice, especially addressing the relationship between achieving justice while also empowering both individual and collective healing


Photography Healing and Justice in Appalachia

Joe Cole (Academic Professional Assistant Professor in the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (USA)’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies)

In this paper, the author explores how photography can promote healing and transformative justice for the people, communities, and ecosystems of Appalachia suffering from the legacies of colonisation, and cultural and structural violence.

The ancestors of many present-day Appalachian people participated in the colonisation of the region and the extermination of Native American cultures. Later, the descendants of Appalachian settlers experienced a second phase of colonisation from timber and coal companies who exploited both the people and the natural resources of the mountains. Stereotypes of mountain people as backward, ignorant, and violent have been used as weapons of cultural violence to rationalise direct and structural violence against Appalachian peoples and ecosystems.

While the legacy of colonisation continues to impact present-day Appalachian communities through economic exploitation, environmental devastation, and cultural isolation, many Appalachian mountain communities have a strong sense of regional identity that supports rich artistic and cultural expression.

Through interviews with photographers working in Appalachia, this paper will explore the impact of photographic representations of Appalachia on healing, transformation, and decolonisation at the intrapersonal, interpersonal, social, and ecological levels.

Even though photography has been used to promote stereotypes and fuel cultural violence, photography can also challenge negative cultural imagery, raise questions around the complexities of identity and community, and explore the meaning and possibilities of healing and justice.

Honourable Association