Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Geology and Geography
This research investigates the perspectives of local residents within the Coal River Valley, WV, who are concerned about the impacts of mountaintop removal (MTR) on themselves, their families and communities, and their environment. In this dissertation, the term 'subaltern' represents a heterogeneous community of resistance to MTR with multiple perspectives around intersections of gender, age, and livelihood. The objectives of my study are twofold: to illuminate how dominant legal discourse continues to subjugate the discourse of resistance to MTR, and to identify possible spaces of resistance within which the subaltern discourse can challenge the power relations that continue to permit mountaintop removal in the case study area. The subaltern discourse is illustrated through 59 interviews with local residents and the construction of participatory maps showing specific concerns regarding MTR on Coal River Mountain.;This participatory GIS (PGIS) project of Coal River Valley is situated within a Foucauldian framework that locates my specific case study within the larger power dynamics controlling mountaintop removal within the valley. Literature from both critical cartography and critical GIS is drawn upon to explain the "particular, local, regional knowledge" referred to by Foucault as an "insurrection of subjugated knowledges" within the Coal River Valley. The use of a PGIS approach to construct the subaltern discourse allows for local residents in the case study area to provide "expert" data regarding their concerns and to play an active role in how their concerns and home place are represented. Data collected through the construction of a mini-archeology of the legal discourse of MTR and a PGIS of Coal River Valley is used to analyze the power relations that continue to subjugate the subaltern discourse. Specific analysis focuses on the discursive formations that are not privileged as "expert knowledge" by the dominant discourse. This dissertation illustrates the concerns of local residents regarding the impact of MTR on the physical and social landscapes of their homes and recommends "spaces of resistance" within which the subaltern discourse can alter power dynamics regarding the continued permitting of MTR.
Osha, Jen, "The Power-Knowledge to Move Mountains: Subaltern Discourses of Mountaintop Removal in Coal River Valley, West Virginia" (2010). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 3259.