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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Law and Property in the Mountains: A Political Economy of Resource Land in the Appalachian Coalfields
by Haas, Johanna Marie, Ph.D., The Ohio State University, 2008, 324; 10631086
Abstract (Summary)

Private property in resource land is a complex matter, sitting at the conjunction of environmental, economic, political, and social systems. This dissertation explores a number of these systems surrounding law and property that link with land use and landscape change in the Appalachian coalfields where the rapid expansion of mining is drastically reshaping the landscape. One economic driver dominates the region, the extraction of coal, which ties to material social and environmental effects, and is driven by social and environmental patterns. Social construction of the institution of private property builds the materiality of private property as something to be owned, but this construction in the Appalachian context has emerged in different form than elsewhere because of the historical and geographical situatedness of the region. The history of accumulation in the Appalachian coalfields is ongoing, fluid, and changing, and, today, has taken on vertical (from beneath to the surface of the land) and horizontal (onto neighboring parcels) spatial forms to enable accumulation of properties adjacent to the coal in all directions. The institution of property law illustrates the multiple and complex interconnections among nature, property, and society. To deal with this disorderliness, the law itself becomes complex, fracturing, and messy and creates material effects as it travels through multiple interactive feedback loops, leading to material effects, most importantly the rapid expansion in the size and scope of Appalachian mining operations. The ideas of private property show that privatization and marketization do not have to work together as a package. In Appalachia, these separations have led to a collapse in the market for resource land and a devaluation of land as land encourages destruction of the now-worthless land as the only rational course of action. The consequences of this include not only environmental destruction of the landscape, but also the social and economic destruction of the people who live there.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Mansfield, Becky
Commitee: Malecki, Edward, McSweeney, Kendra
School: The Ohio State University
Department: Geography
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 78/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Geography
Keywords: Appalachia, Coal mining, Land, Law, Political economy, Property
Publication Number: 10631086
ISBN: 978-0-355-01385-6
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