Appalachian Stereotypes and Mountain Top Removal

10 Pages Posted: 25 Feb 2016

See all articles by Jill Fraley

Jill Fraley

Washington and Lee University - School of Law

Date Written: October 23, 2015


Saving Appalachia from absolute devastation by mining companies has, thus far, been a losing battle. Failure is wrapped up in the image of Appalachia in the public consciousness. Appalachia is a place to get away from, not a place to live. Saving Appalachia is a quest to save an ugly duckling.

The duckling has been so strongly ingrained in the American consciousness that it does not matter that Appalachia houses the greatest biodiversity in North America. The cultural stereotypes of Appalachians are noticeably similar to stereotypes of other peoples whose land, natural resources, and labor have been stolen by a majority group. Historically, stereotypes have been wrapped up in efforts to dominate and oppress — to take land and resources — through dehumanizing a group and eroding their dignity.

By hiding behind stereotypes and going to great lengths to hide information, the coal industry and its political supporters have embarked on an astonishing path of destruction. Mining literally plows through and under the Appalachian wilderness. When the mining operation is stopped, the structural stability of the mountain areas has been irreparably compromised.

The great attack on the Appalachian Mountains continues unabated precisely because the public consciousness does not value Appalachia. Through 150 years of stereotypes, Appalachia has been rendered a place outside normal American life. The cultural image of Appalachia allows Americans to believe — falsely! — that Appalachia is ugly and therefore not worth saving.

Keywords: Appalachia, Coal Industry, Cultural Image, Oppress, Path of Destruction, Public Consciousness, Stereotypes

JEL Classification: A1, A13, A14, D6, D63, I3, K3, K32

Suggested Citation

Fraley, Jill, Appalachian Stereotypes and Mountain Top Removal (October 23, 2015). Washington & Lee Legal Studies Paper No. 2015 - 23, Available at SSRN: or

Jill Fraley (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )

Sydney Lewis Hall
Lexington, VA 24450
United States

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