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Welsh AmericansA History of Assimilation in the Coalfields$
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Ronald L. Lewis

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780807832202

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807887905_lewis

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(p.1) Introduction
Welsh Americans

Ronald L. Lewis

University of North Carolina Press

This book describes how the collapse of the coal-mining industry in post-World War II Wales left this small nation with an “identity crisis.” R. Merfyn Jones has observed that a previously homogeneous Wales has dissolved into an “unfamiliar pluralism” of fragmented images. These images range from “short dark men singing hymns in the shadow of slag heaps,” on the one hand, to a restructured society “dripping with microchips” on the other. It is probably safe to say that Americans still identify Wales with coal rather than microchips. This traditional identity with coal mining rests on solid ground. Though in the nineteenth century coal was a significant presence in Wales, it was the massive late Victorian and Edwardian expansion of the industry that established coal mining's dominance as the popular image of Wales.

Keywords:   coal-mining industry, World War II, Wales, identity crisis, R. Merfyn Jones, unfamiliar pluralism, fragmented images, restructured society, microchips

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