Resource Nationalism and the Sacrificial Subject in Coal Country

Authors: Alec Brownlow*, DePaul University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Political Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: resource nationalism, sacrifice, patriotism, energy, memorials
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This presentation explores and considers the growth of sacrificial rhetoric in environmental and energy politics as exemplified within the language of the 'sacrifice zone' as it is deployed by political and business interests to label energy-producing and other 'essential' resource landscapes. I argue that the trope is discursively linked to narratives and iconographies of patriotism, duty, citizenship, masculinity, identity, and belonging and, in that capacity, is effective in the creation of sacrificial subjects, both human and non-human. This may be especially so among oft-stigmatized rural, energy-producing communities where sacrifice is an historic foundation of both personal and place-identities, and among whom stigmatization, stereotypes, and 'othering' are not uncommon. To this end, I approach Resource Nationalism as a crisis narrative and a subject-making politic and discourse with the potential to rationalize, justify, and facilitate consent for violence, including the 'sacrifice' of resource-based laborers, communities, and landscapes. These patterns and questions are considered through an analysis and deconstruction of mining memorials and monuments in Appalachia.

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