Susan E. Keefe

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Overview


Dr. Susan E. Keefe is an applied medical anthropologist who currently works as a professor in the Department of Anthropology at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. She also teaches classes in the Center for Appalachian Studies at the university. While much of her work focuses on the health needs of people in the Appalachian portion of North Carolina, she has also conducted research in Mexico, Barbados, and Southern California. The topics of her research range from questions of modernity, ethnicity, and social organization to cultural competency and mental health.

Research


Early Work

Keefe’s career began in the 1970s with research on kinship and identity among Mexican-Americans and Chicanos in the United States. In Chicano Identity, she explored factors such as assimilation and acculturation. In later works, she addressed questions of mental health and health-seeking behaviors among the same ethnic groups.[1] .

Focus on Appalachia

Beginning in the 1980s, Keefe’s focus shifted to Appalachia, where she conducted research on topics such as the “mountain identity”, ethnicity, mental health, and cultural competency. Her work in the region is aimed at providing practical and sustainable resources that can be utilized by health care practitioners and social workers to promote the wellbeing of the residents of Appalachia, as evidenced by her book Appalachian Cultural Competency: A Guide for Medical, Mental Health, and Social Service Professionals (2006). The essays in this book provide an overview of Appalachian identity, language, and health concerns; Keefe’s introduction and section commentaries emphasize the difficulty of defining a culture and how it influences health.[2]

Keefe has also added to anthropological discourse surrounding the concepts of development and modernity. In her book Participatory Development in Appalachia: Cultural Identity, Community, and Sustainability (2009) Keefe suggests that development programs should capitalize on the assets and leadership of individual communities and community members. The participatory development scheme described in this book, in contrast to the ‘modernization’ approach to development, emphasizes the value of local cultures and traditions, the collaboration of professionals and community members, and the importance of sustainability[3]

In “Theorizing Modernity in Appalachia,” Keefe observes that Mountain people are both modern and non-modern because they accept certain aspects of modernity (technology and material goods) while consciously rejecting other aspects such as individualism. This phenomenon, which has also been observed in other locations such as India, Thailand, Japan, and Nigeria, has also been called “modernization without Westernization” because certain key concepts of “Western” ideals are consciously rejected. For example, Japan’s business world is certainly modern, but Western values such as individualism that are associated with capitalism are rejected in favor of more traditional values. [4]

In the case of Appalachia, Keefe says that mountain people have readily adopted modern amenities such as television, automobiles, and clothing styles; however, traditional values such as reciprocity and an emphasis on family have remained and certain aspects of modernity, such as conspicuous consumption and secularism have been rejected. She calls this experience “multiple modernity.” [5] This is meaningful to the idea of modernity because it portrays individuals as active rather than passive agents in the modernization process.

Biography


Keefe was born in Spokane, Washington, but moved to southern California with her family when she was a child. She received her B.A. from University of California, Santa Barbara in 1969. She remained at that university and went on to receive both her M.A. and Ph.D. in 1971 and 1974, respectively
She currently resides in Blowing Rock, North Carolina; she is a professor of anthropology at nearby Appalachian State University, located in Boone, NC.[6]

At Appalachian State, Keefe has held positions on the Graduate Program Advisory Committee for the Center for Appalachian Studies and the Sustainable Development Program. She was also a member of the Steering Committee of the Appalachian Studies Association and the President of the Southern Anthropology Society. [7]

Major Publications


Journal Articles


Keefe, Susan E.
1982 Help-seeking behavior among foreign-born and native-born Mexican Americans. Social Science & Medicine 16(16):1467-1472

1994 Urbanism Reconsidered: A Southern Appalachian Perspective. City & Society 7: 20–34.

2008 Theorizing Modernity in Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies 14(1):160-173

Book Chapters


Keefe, Susan E.
1998 Appalachian Americans: The Formation of Reluctant Ethics. In Many Americas: Critical Perspectives on Race, Racism and Ethnicity, Gregory R. Campbell, ed. Pp. 129-153.Dubuque, IO: Kendall/Hunt.

2002 Religious Healing in Southern Appalachian Communities. In Southern Heritage on Display: Public Ritual and Ethnic Diversity Within Southern Regionalism. Celeste Ray, ed. Pp. 144-166. Birmingham: University of Alabama Press.

Books


Keefe, Susan, ed.
1988 Appalachian Mental Health. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.

2005 Appalachian Cultural Competency: A Guide for Medical, Mental Health, and Social Service Professionals. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

2009 Participatory Development in Appalachia: Cultural Identity, Community, and Sustainability. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.

Keefe, Susan, and Amado Padilla.
1987 Chicano ethnicity. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press. ...

More Information
















Appalachian State University Department of Anthropology: http://anthro.appstate.edu/

Susan E. Keefe's faculty websites:
http://www.anthro.appstate.edu/people/faculty-and-staff/susan-e-keefe
http://www.appstudies.appstate.edu/susan-e-keefe

References


  1. ^ Keefe, Susan, and Amado Padilla. 1987 Chicano ethnicity. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.
  2. ^ Keefe, Susan E., ed. 2005 Appalachian Cultural Competency: A Guide for Medical, Mental Health, and Social Service Professionals. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
  3. ^ Keefe, Susan E., ed. 2009 Participatory Development in Appalachia: Cultural Identity, Community, and Sustainability. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
  4. ^ Keefe, Susan E. 2008 Theorizing Modernity in Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies 14(1):160-173.
  5. ^ Keefe, Susan E. 2008 Theorizing Modernity in Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies 14(1):160-173.
  6. ^ Appalachian State University N.d. Dr. Susan E. Keefe. Appalachian State University. http://www.anthro.appstate.edu/people/faculty-and-staff/susan-e-keefe, accessed April 26, 2012.
  7. ^ Appalachian State University. N.d. Dr. Susan E. Keefe. Appalachian State University. http://www.appstudies.appstate.edu/susan-e-keefe, accessed April 26, 2012.