Coal Production: Narratives of the Appalachian Landscape


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Appalachia has a long and controversial history of being invented, mapped and named by coal and coal mining. In order to extract coal, narratives mapped the region, wherein, “the coal industry’s priorities have determined the local economy, culture and geography” (Scott 137). Contention around this history and mapping continues amongst scholars, artists, environmentalists, industry and others about this history of coal as Appalachia transitions into a contemporary “post-coal” landscape. As the physical landscape—which has been scarred and manipulated by the coal industry—changes, so, too, does the cultural landscape. How is the history and contemporary moment of Appalachia told in this new cultural landscape? There are extremes of past and future Appalachia(s) represented and promoted as a demarcation of place. This project looks toward tourism/museums in the coalfields of West Virginia as promoters of both past and future narratives. This specific engagement took place at the West Virginia Mine Wars Museum in Matewan, WV. I captured Legends and Legacies, a talk about the labor unions in West Virginia. What role do these public spaces of tours and museums offer to the narrative of Appalachia and to the future of a “post-coal” Appalachia?





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