Mining Coal and Undermining Gender
Rhythms of Work and Family in the American West
Publication Year: 2014
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Title Page, Copyright
Preface and Acknowledgments
Download PDF (66.6 KB)
In many ways, this book’s roots stretch back to 2000, when I spent my first summer home from college working at a coal mine south of my hometown in northeastern Wyoming. My father had spent most of his working life as a mechanic at a different mine owned by the same company, and the “summer student” program in the Powder River Basin was a rite of passage for all of us who had grown up with parents working in the mines. I did not originally...
Part I: Orientation
1. Putting Kinship to Work
Download PDF (1.0 MB)
“Gender is not the most important part of my day,” Mary said to me during one of the shifts I spent with her at an enormous surface coal mine in northeastern Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, a region that is the largest coal producer in the United States.1 Mary had just completed her second decade of work at a mine that is one of the largest in the basin and the entire country. Surface miners like Mary spend their shifts operating heavy machinery to remove the top...
2. Labor Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility
Download PDF (151.8 KB)
For the past century, mining communities and workplaces have proven productive ground from which to document and theorize the harms of capitalism. As Elizabeth Ferry writes, “The high concentration of capital and labor, territorial isolation, and heavy state intervention make the organization of power and authority, and resistance to it, appear in particularly stark terms in mining contexts” (2005: 6). The legendary danger of mines, infamous...
Part II: Putting in Time
3. Shiftwork as Kinwork
Download PDF (142.5 KB)
The most difficult part of their jobs, according to Powder River Basin miners, is not operating some of the world's largest machinery in an inherently risky environment, but attuning their bodies and relationships to a demanding shiftwork schedule that requires them to switch continually between day and night shifts, each of twelve hours' duration. When talking about their work, ...
4. Interweaving Love and Labor
Download PDF (443.2 KB)
Traces of the mining industry are found throughout Gillette, even if the mines are located between ten to sixty miles outside of town. Driving into town from the north or east requires driving past active mines and power plants located alongside the highway; travelers pull over to watch shovels, draglines, and haul trucks in action from the road, sometimes stopping to take pit tours that com-...
Part III: Undoing Gender at Work
5. Tomboys and Softies
Download PDF (182.4 KB)
Miners in the Powder River Basin are not immune from evoking dominant ste-reotypes about men and women as they make sense of, comment on, and debate issues and events both in the workplace and outside of it. This observation is not surprising given that they watch American television shows and movies that play up differences between men and women and naturalize them in biological ...
6. Hard Work, Humor, and Harassment
Download PDF (176.3 KB)
Accusations of sexual harassment in the Powder River Basin coal mines are rare but unforgettable occasions for everyone involved. At only two points during my employment and research at six different mines did the crew I was working with or observing label an action sexual harassment. One of them involved a thirty- something equipment operator named Rick, whose high regard for his ...
Download PDF (80.5 KB)
Theories and ethnographic accounts of kinship and gender are rightly inter-twined. Both are cultural concepts that Euro-Americans naturalize in biology, and kinship is one of the primary social forces behind the enculturation of masculine and feminine persons (Rubin 1975; Yanagisako and Collier 1987). In fact, the foundational text for the feminist analysis of kinship and gender ...
Download PDF (120.7 KB)
Glossary of Mining Terms
Download PDF (74.3 KB)
Download PDF (108.2 KB)
Download PDF (103.5 KB)
Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 4 photographs
Publication Year: 2014