Rachel Hopkin

I moved to the States last summer to study America’s folk culture and there are few better places to do this than Kentucky. I am therefore delighted to be a graduate assistant in the Folk Studies program at Western Kentucky University. For my assistantship, I’m working on a series of radio projects for the Folk Studies and Anthropology Department exploring different aspects of Kentucky’s traditional life - from buildings to music, and from food to crafts. These pieces will be posted here so you can listen to them online, and they will also be broadcast on WKU’s Public Radio. I’m collaborating with photographer Amanda Hardeman who is taking some great pictures of the people featured in these programs.

I’m originally from the southeast of England and I have a background in radio producing: I was a staff producer at the BBC for 6 years, mainly working on music related programs, then I spent 4 years as an independent producer and reporter, largely based in Argentina, making pieces for English language networks around the world.

I first fell in love with the US during a field-trip looking at continuing oral traditions among musicians in the Southern Appalachians in 2002, and the more time I spend in this country, the more I love it.

Amanda Hardeman

I was born in Bardstown, Kentucky, but have strong roots in the hills of Appalachia where my grandparents cut out a life for themselves. Early memories of hill walking, chicken and dumplings, and good music have helped to shape the person I am today. My passion for traditional music, coupled with my desire to document and share aspects of daily life that are often overlooked brought me to the discipline of folklore.

I pursued two years of non-degree study in the field of photojournalism at Western Kentucky University, considered one of the best photojournalism programs in the United States. I graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Cultural Anthropology in 2009. While pursuing my Anthropology degree, I became interested in ethnographic video production and have since produced several film-based projects. In May I will graduate from WKU with a Master of Arts degree in Folk Studies from one of the best folklore master's programs in the nation. I plan to use my varied experiences, and a multidisciplinary and multi-media approach to folklore to better document and present traditional culture.