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Fighting King CoalThe Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia$
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Shannon Elizabeth Bell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034340

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034340.001.0001

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Cognitive Liberation and Hidden Destruction in Central Appalachia

Cognitive Liberation and Hidden Destruction in Central Appalachia

(p.109) 6 Cognitive Liberation and Hidden Destruction in Central Appalachia
Fighting King Coal

Sean P. Bemis

The MIT Press

Chapter 6 argues that another factor inhibiting the process of consciousness transformation, or cognitive liberation, among local coalfield residents is a lack of knowledge about the extent of the coal industry’s activities due to the fact that much of the destruction is not easily seen. The study presented in this chapter uses a geographic information system (GIS) in the top coal-producing county in West Virginia to quantitatively identify how much of the active and recently surface-mined land is visible from the roads in that county. This viewshed analysis reveals that although 47 percent of the total landscape in the county is visible from transportation corridors (including U.S. highways, state highways, and county roads), only 23 percent of the surface-mined land mass is visible from these corridors. Removing the county roads (which are remote and largely depopulated) from the analysis makes the findings even more dramatic: only 4 percent of the total area of surface-mined land in the county is visible from U.S. and state highways. The fact that so much industry activity is out of sight from local residents likely poses another hindrance to social movement recruitment.

Keywords:   Consciousness transformation, Cognitive liberation, Coal industry, Geographic Information System (GIS), Surface mines, Social movement, Viewshed analysis

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