Events and Conferences

Fighting King Coal: The Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia

In this talk, Professor Shannon Elizabeth Bell examines an understudied puzzle within social movement theory: why so few of the many people who suffer from industry-produced environmental hazards and pollution rise up to participate in social movements aimed at bringing about social justice and industry accountability. Using the coal-mining region of Central Appalachia as a case study, Bell investigates the challenges of micromobilization through in-depth interviews, participant observation, content analysis, geospatial viewshed analysis, and an eight-month “Photovoice” project — an innovative means of studying, in real time, the social dynamics affecting activist involvement in the region. Through her analysis, Bell reveals the importance of local identities to the success or failure of local recruitment efforts in social movement struggles, ultimately arguing that if the local identities of environmental justice movements are lost, these movements may also lose their power. 

Event Details

March 14, 2018
1–2:30 p.m.
Moot Court (EA1031)

Faculty of Arts Building, Mount Royal University
4825 Mount Royal Gate SW

This event is free. All are welcome.

AboutShannon Bell_Arts Distinguished Speaker 2018Shannon Elizabeth Bell is Associate Professor of Sociology at Virginia Tech University (beginning August 2017). Prior to that, she was Associate Professor of Sociology and of Environmental Studies at the University of Kentucky, where she was affiliated with the Gender & Women’s Studies Department, the Appalachian Studies Program, and the American Studies Program.

She specializes in gender and the environment, environmental justice, fossil fuels, social movements, and climate change. Her primary focus has been understanding the ways environmentally-destructive industries acquire, maintain, and exercise their power and discovering strategies for increasing the political participation of local citizens who are most affected by environmental injustices. Feminist insights about the gendered nature of power, social practices, structures, and identities inform her theoretical and methodological approaches. 

Dr. Bell’s recent research has focused on the power of the coal industry and the ways in which the social and environmental impacts of this industry have affected communities, social movement participation, and the individual lives of residents living in the coalmining region of Central Appalachia. In her work, she often uses the participatory action research method of “Photovoice” to study the barriers to local participation in the environmental justice movement in southern West Virginia. 

Dr. Bell is author of two books. Most recently, she wrote Fighting King Coal: Challenges to Micromobilization in Central Appalachia (MIT Press, 2016). Prior to that, she authored Our Roots Run Deep As Ironweed: Appalachian Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice (University of Illinois Press, 2013). Together her books have received five book awards and were reviewed in several leading journals. Her articles related to environmental justice in Appalachia have appeared in journals such a Rural Sociology, Human Ecology Review, Social Science Research, Gender & Society, Sociological Forum, Appalachian Studies, and the Brooklyn Law Review

Dr. Bell is the recipient of numerous awards for her scholarly contributions, her teaching, and her service to the community. She receive the Robert Boguslaw Award for Technology and Humanism from the American Sociological Association in 2013, as well as the Outstanding Teaching Award from the University of Kentucky in 2013, and several others. On campus, she teaches courses such as “Climate Change, Energy, and Society,” “Inequalities in the Global Environment,” “Environmental Activism,” “and “Environmental Justice.” 

More about her work can be found at www.ShannonElizBell.com and www.WVPhotovoice.org.