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Extraction on Extraction: Cultural Understanding of Cobalt Mining in an Active Superfund Site in Rural Missouri

Authors: Julia Kovacs*,
Topics: Cultural Geography, Rural Geography, Land Use
Keywords: environment, land, water, cultural geography, environmental justice, environmental sociology, extraction, extractive capitalism, Missouri, rural, rural geography, rural culture, lead, lead mining, mining, cobalt, cobalt mining, culture, sociology
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The growth of the environmental justice social movement as well as the dissemination of the accompanying academic discipline aided in the exposure of harm caused by extractive processes, such as mining and drilling. This movement resulted in and continues to influence extensive environmental cleanup projects and the closure of innumerous extractive operations. As a result, the cultural geographies of the communities reliant on these industries are deeply affected. This project critically examines the cultural landscape of the Southeast Missouri Ozarks in relation to a shift in extractive methods. This area, that is home to several Superfund sites that have yet to be fully remediated, is historically intertwined with lead mining and was recently sold to a private cobalt mining company as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s redevelopment plan. This project uses in-depth semi-structured interviews, critical content analysis and geospatial mapping to understand the cultural connection of rural Missourians to land in the context of extractive capitalism. This research demonstrates the significant influence of state and corporate actors on a region’s cultural geography.

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