Rebecca R. Scott
328 Middlebush Hall
My current research interests include environmental cultural studies, gender, race and class formations, nature, place and embodiment, fossil fuels and material culture. My emergent work is focusing on the cultural politics of environmental risk. In a recent paper I’ve begun thinking about the kinds of natures-cultures that are in practice in late fossil fuel society. For example, what material and cultural contexts make sense of climate change denial or acceptance? What futures are imagined in these contexts? The intimate nature of physical vulnerability in a world of environmental inequalities implies that these problems carry heavy moral, emotional and cultural loads at the same time as their effects may seem to be constantly deferred to a future “tipping” point, or feared moment of total catastrophe. The present/not present tension characteristic of many environmental hazards, especially climate change, suggests that environmental politics are discursively related to widely divergent questions of ontology, epistemology, political economy, morality and identity.
This project builds on the work I began with my first book, Removing Mountains: Extracting Nature and Identity in the Appalachian Coalfields (University of Minnesota Press 2010), an ethnographic study of mountaintop removal (MTR) in the southern West Virginia coalfields. The book brings together environmental sociology, cultural studies, and intersectional approaches to inequality, and focuses on those in the coalfields who support the coal industry and believe it to be essential for the survival of the region, as well as those who are fighting to end the practice of MTR. It raises many issues that will be critical for the foreseeable future: how will the future be powered, and who will benefit? What will the human-nature relation consist of in the future, and how will different communities be affected? The book examines the connections between coal mining as a historically located practice in the coalfields, gendered and racialized meanings of mine work, and the production of Appalachia as a region. It maps the ways that American national identity and a gendered, raced and classed political culture shape our understanding of private property, citizenship and nature, in ways that create the conditions of possibility for destructive environmental practices like MTR. Combining critical readings of cultural artifacts, participant observation, and unstructured, open-ended interviews loosely focused on the coal industry and social transformations in coalfield communities, the book explores the basic question of how people come to tolerate the destruction of the environment.
Scott, Rebecca R. 2013. “Environmental Affects: NASCAR, Place and White American Cultural Citizenship” Social Identities 19(1): 13-31.
Scott, Rebecca R. 2010. Removing Mountains: Extracting Nature and Identity in the Appalachian Coalfields. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Scott, Rebecca R. 2010. “Coal Heritage/Coal History: Progress, Tourism, and Mountaintop Removal.” In Toward a Sociology of the Trace, Herman Gray and Macarena Gómez-Barris, eds. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Scott, Rebecca R. 2009. "The Sociology of Coal Hollow: Safety, Othering and Representations of Inequality" Journal of Appalachian Studies 15(1&2): 7-25.
Scott Rebecca R. 2009 “Appalachia and the Construction of Whiteness in the United States.” Sociology Compass 3: 1-8.
Scott, Rebecca R. 2009 “Authenticity, Performative Action, and the White American Complaint.” Review essay. Qualitative Sociology 32(3): 333-335.
Scott, Rebecca R. 2007. “Dependent Masculinity and Political Culture in Pro-Mountaintop Removal Discourse: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Dragline.” Feminist Studies 33(3): 484-509.
Sociology of Gender
Gender and the Environment
Graduate Seminar in Culture, Difference and Inequality
Graduate Seminar in Environmental Discourses
Graduate Seminar in the Sociology of Gender
“Sen. Robert Byrd’s legacy may be complicated, but one thing is certain—he won’t be easy to replace.” University of Minnesota Press blog, July 7, 2010. http://www.uminnpressblog.com/2010/07/sen-robert-byrds-legacy-may-be.html.
“Almost Heaven or Almost Hell? Fossil Fuels, Paychecks and Nature.” Huffington Post Green blog, October 28, 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rebecca-r-scott/post_1166_b_775619.html.
Follow me at @RemovingMts on Twitter