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David E. Whisnant spent more than fifty years (1965-2021) doing research, writing and teaching at the University of Illinois, the University of Maryland at Baltimore County, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in other contexts. He is the author, co-author or editor of eight books and scores of articles and reviews on traditional and vernacular culture, documentary film, traditional music, the politics of culture and cultural policy, the history of the Appalachian region, Latin American history and culture, the history and politics of planned economic development, and the history of the U.S. National Parks. His work has appeared in many venues and formats, both print and digital. He has also been a consultant, researcher and writer for many local, state, regional and national projects and organizations within the private, public, and non-profit sectors. He has lectured widely in the U.S. and abroad, and has served on numerous academic and agency boards.


1961, BS Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology

1962, AM English, Duke University

1965, PhD English, Duke University

1996, MSW Social Work, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


  • “Finding the Way Between the Old and the New:  The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and Bascom Lamar Lunsford’s Work as a Citizen,”  in David E. Whisnant, ed., Process, Policy, and Context: Contemporary Perspectives on Appalachian Culture, special issue of Appalachian Journal 7 (Autumn/Winter 1979-80), 135-154.
  • All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Region (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983; 25th anniversary edition, 2009) (Elsie Clews Parsons Prize, American Folklore Society, 1984; nominated for Pulitzer Prize).
  • Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995).
  • Gateway to the Atlantic World: Cape Lookout National Seashore Historic Resource Study [with Anne Mitchell Whisnant] (National Park Service, 2015).
  • Black Lives and Whitened Stories: From the Lowcountry to the Mountains, Historic Resource Study on African American History, Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site [with Anne Mitchell Whisnant] (National Park Service, 2021).
  • Asheville Junction: Personal History, Family, Community, & Region (Blog, 2014- ).


  • 1965, Phi Beta Kappa
  • 1969-70, Danforth Foundation Theological Year
  • 1973-74, Rockefeller Foundation Humanities Research Grant
  • 1979-80, National Endowment for the Humanities General Research Program Grant (RS-29670-79-273)
  • 1979-81, Fellow in Residence, Folklife Program, Smithsonian Institution
  • 1980-81, National Endowment for the Humanities State, Local and Regional Programs Grant (RS-20060-80-1667)
  • 1981-83, Fellow, American Society and Politics Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  • 1986, National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Faculty Seminar
  • 1987-88, Fulbright Central American Republics Research Award: Central American Crises in Historical Perspective; Tulane University (Nicaragua)
  • 1989, Program on Culture and National Identity, Institute of Culture and Communication, East-West Center
  • 1993, Brown-Hudson Service Award, North Carolina Folklore Society
  • 2013, Cratis D. Williams / James S. Brown Award, Appalachian Studies Association