Submission Date

7-21-2017

Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access

Department

History

Second Department

American Studies

Faculty Mentor

Edward Onaci

Second Faculty Mentor

Jasmine Harris

Comments

Presented during the 19th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 21, 2017 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

The pre-existing literature of the Central Appalachian region typically focuses on the history of the Mine Wars, the process of de-unionization, or the current day environmentalist movements. Within and in between these narratives lies a more complete and unexplored history of the region’s unique culture: one that stands as a test to resiliency, fatalism and the power of white identity politics. The extant literature has failed to adequately address these issues. To address this gap, I have begun exploring secondary research to analyze the formation of politically weaponized whiteness in Central Appalachia. During his 2016 election rallies, for example, Donald J. Trump mobilized this charged identity by enlisting fully clad miners to hold “Trump Digs Coal” signs. My work stems from the uniquely white response that is elicited from this messaging. Further, I examine the ways in which coal companies and absentee corporations have mobilized the mining identity to maintain power in the region. This historical power dynamic has perpetuated economic degradation, low high school graduation rates and the Appalachian opioid crisis while simultaneously producing a high percentage of Trump supporters in a historically blue area. In order to tackle these elements I am blending history and sociology with a feminist intersectional approach to the region’s history as I prepare for my trip to West Virginia in August.

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