Nice to meet you, HASTAC! I’m Melissa R. Meade, a PhD candidate at Temple University in Media and Communication. Based off of fieldwork conducted over five years, my dissertation research, “In the Shadow of ‘King Coal,’” explores the restructuring of Pennsylvania’s de-industrialized Anthracite Coal Region—a restructuring that involves the Coal Region’s scalar and spatial positioning, mediated imaginaries of the community, ethnic relations, and issues of capital accumulation and economic abandonment. The dissertation is focusing on the region’s cultural processes, which are intensely local but also linked to wider circulations of capital and media: out-migration of youth, in-migration of new residents, mediated representations of “Appalachia,” and the social memory of mining labor and mine-related violence. The project incorporates autoethnographic writing along with more traditional ethnographic approaches to communication research as I grew up amongst family who labored in the local mines and I hail from the Anthracite Coal Region written about in this study.
Through the creation of a Digital History and Memory Blog, “the Anthracite Coal Region” project aims to develop digital resources that foster the collection and presentation of local artifacts and notes. This portion of my project is born out of a successful following of the sustained collaborative digital work that I started on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AnthraciteCoalRegion A permanent archive of the materials curated on Facebook (rather than relying on Facebook’s structure and limitations) would allow continued online and offline dialogue. I began to create such a space at http://anthracitecoalregion.org this summer. This project will work to forge a central digital repository of active public interest communication, anthropology, and history. Continuing the momentum of the Facebook page, the blog makes critical new connections between community members and the many groups that have already been identified as active in the Anthracite Region. I have already forged manifold local relationships on the ground. This project is the concatenation of individual stories, texts, and memories, many of which have been buried or forgotten.
My work so far at the Center for Humanities at Temple has fostered new and innovative ideas as to how to use technology to work on this project. I am looking forward to being a part of HASTAC to learn about your projects, to share ideas, and to generally think through my project.