Landscapes of mining and agriculture in western Kentucky




Powell, Lisa J.

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Though mining and agriculture have always shared a function in producing energy, for machines and for human and animal consumption, respectively, landscapes containing and created by the two practices have been worlds apart in the popular imagination. As a place where large-scale commercial agriculture and underground coal mining exist side-by-side and one-on-top-of-the-other, Union County in Western Kentucky can be confusing for those who have experienced both only through the filters of mass news media, films, books, and music. Yet, it is a place where food production and fuel production have coexisted for centuries and where there is no indication that either will cease in the near future. This dissertation introduces the concept of the hybrid energy landscape, a physical and cultural space in which food is produced as an energy source in addition to mechanical fuels. In such a landscape, of which Union County is a primary example, competiton for land use can result in both conflicts and negotiations, which this dissertation explores. As many of current proposals for alternative strategies to meet resource needs involve producing food and fuel in shared spaces, Union County provides a valuable case study of such a hybrid energy landscape that has been functioning and developing for 200 years


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