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HUNTINGTON - When it comes to telling the story of Huntington, Marshall University anthropology associate professor Brian Hoey has his way of storytelling.

"Much of what we do in anthropology is about telling stories," Hoey said during his ANT 489 class on campus. "The core of cultural anthropology is writing culture. That's what anthropology means, so writing culture is basically telling stories about the significance of cultural values, behaviors, beliefs and practices, and what it means to people."

Hoey, his students and dozens of presenters will tell Huntington's story through their anthropological lens during the 51st annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society from Thursday through Saturday, April 7-9, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena Conference Center, where the theme will be "Reinventing and Reinvesting in the Local for Our Common Good."

Hoey said Huntington is the perfect example of such a theme, specifically noting the revitalization of the area in the past decade.

"Many of the businesses that are engaged and are interested in what we're doing are an example of that," Hoey said. "It's about people who have taken a risk to reinvent some of the buildings, reinvent some businesses to start a new business, to literally invest their time, energy, blood, sweat and tears and take a risk. ... It's not as risky as it used to be, but 10 years ago it was risky to make an investment in downtown."

Among the presentations will be one detailing Huntington's history through a cultural lens and another talking about the success stories of local businesses in Huntington. Both presentations will be led by students in the ANT 489 course, which serves as an anthropological internship for the six students in the course. Those students also happen to be heavily involved in the planning of the conference.

Of course, the conference isn't just for those in the anthropological community. As the nature of the presentations suggests, there is something for anyone who wants to help make their community a better place.

"I don't think you have to be an academic to make a difference," said Hannah Smith, a biochemistry and anthropology double major from Kenova. "For this conference in particular, with this theme of reinvesting in the local, everybody has their own local, whether you're academic or not. People are always saying, 'I want to make a difference in the world.' OK. This is an awesome way to start that, to learn way to do that, projects to do and applications you can use, whether you take it to Huntington or somewhere else."

There are special rates for attending the conference for those who aren't part of the society or otherwise anthropologists by trade.

There is a $35 fee each day if anyone from the community would like to participate in any of the presentations happening during the three-day event.

The event also includes three book signings, which are free and open to the public, with the exception of the cost of the books.

The fee also isn't applicable to a keynote banquet that begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 9, in the Azalea Room of the Conference Center, where the guest speaker will be Dr. Melinda Wagner, Professor Emeritus of Radford University.

For a complete schedule of events for the 51st annual meeting of the Southern Anthropological Society, visit


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