Coal is the commodity that powered the technologies that made the modern world. It also brought about unique communities marked by a high degree of social solidarity and self-help. Mining was central to working class life, drawing rural populations into industrial labour, but it often took place in picturesque landscapes, so that its black spoil heaps became a central symbol of the degradation of pastoral life by the demands of an extractive industry.
Throughout Europe and the USA photographers have pictured the characteristic landscapes of the industry, and continue to do so as strip mining devastates huge areas of land. Not only landscape photography but also documentary, portraiture, photojournalism and art photography have been used in order to portray mines and miners. This book presents three interlinked strands of investigation. The first is the way in which the production of coal created paradigmatic communities grounded in particular landscapes. The second concerns the role of photography in exploring, delineating and critiquing mining communities. This in turn involves an examination of the aesthetic and social characteristics of a number of genres of photography. Lastly, it considers the growth and decline of these sites, the geographic shift of the industry to other places, and the re-presentation of traditional localities through the lens of the heritage industry and industrial tourism.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents List of Illustrations Introduction 1. Degradation and regeneration 2. Images of miners 3. Mining communities 4. Fog, smog and pollution 5. Strikes and conflict 6. The new landscape of coal 7. Heritage, memory and nostalgia Conclusion Index
Derrick Price is a freelance writer and independent scholar who has published widely on photography and film. He currently Chairs the Board of Ffotogallery, the photography agency of Wales.
"Coal Cultures is ambitious in its scope, interesting in its detail and very enjoyable to read. Derrick Price brings his formidable scholarship to explore the sophisticated dynamics of the cultures in and around that seemingly most basic of all commodities, coal. To do so within a complex global context is impressive."
--National Museum Wales - Paul Cabuts, Honorary Research Fellow at Amguedffa Cymru
"In Coal Cultures, Derrick Price tracks the long history of visual culture around coal production, livelihoods and impacts, starting with 16th century woodprints of mining technology. ... This is a comprehensive survey of visual approaches to finding meaning in coal landscapes and lifestyles: from othering to humanising its people, and from seeing ruin to order in its landscapes. ... Price digs nicely into gender issues here, including photos of women miners and the exploring the persistence of sexualisation and sexism they faced."