AbstractsGeography &GIS

Remembering a Workplace Disaster: Different Landscapes—Different Narratives?

by Glenn E Stubbs

Institution: Kent State University
Department: College of Arts and Sciences / Department of Geography
Degree: MA
Year: 2015
Keywords: Geography; Memorials; Memory; Workplace Disasters; Working Class; Labor; Cultural Landscape; Coal Mine Accidents
Record ID: 2058138
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1427661080


STUBBS, GLENN EUGENE, M.A. MAY 2015 GEOGRAPHYREMEMBERING A WORKPLACE DISASTER: DIFFERENT LANDSCAPES, DIFFERENT NARRATIVES? Thesis Advisor: Christopher W. PostCultural landscapes, those altered by human activity, convey narratives of those who created, as well as altered, them. Such landscapes are often the result of day-to-day activities. However, purposeful use of the landscape to memorialize important events opens windows into a community’s values and emotions. Selected memorial sites, sanctified by monuments and services, retell a consensus history. At the same time, other local landscapes may relate different, and frequently conflicting, narratives of a remembered incident. My study area, the small, rural southeastern Ohio town of Millfield, is one such place. On November 5 1390, this company town for a coal mine suffered Ohio’s worst mining accident when an explosion killed 82. Even though the mine closed 69 years ago, the community still exists under the shadow of the mine and its infamous accident. For this community the desire to remember the explosion and its victims was immediate but memorialization on the landscape proved to be an arduous process. Two landscapes, the site of the mine and the site of a monument, now represent the history of the mine explosion. At a first glance, these two landscapes tell contrasting narratives. However, deeper examination reveals a bond between the two that expresses the uniformity of Millfield’s connection to its past. By juxtaposing those landscapes, I consider the historic narratives this community believes important portray about its past to the present and into the future.