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Accepted Paper:

Who Speaks for the Mines: Morality and Mine Water in Post- 'Coalonial' County Durham  
Chima Michael Anyadike-Danes (Durham University) Claire Dungey (King's College London)

Paper short abstract:

Amongst the remnants of County Durham's 'coalonial' past present in its rural landscape are many disused mines. Recently, there has been growing interest in using them to provide geothermal power. We explore this phenomenon and ask who speaks for the ex-miners and the mines, and how do they do so?

Paper long abstract:

The Durham County Council declared a climate emergency in 2019. This development was part of a growing trend of English local government responding to both the Paris Climate Agreement's targets and their residents' demands by seeking to create alternative, decarbonised futures. Among the many proposals for decarbonising Durham has been the suggestion that geothermal heat could be extracted from underground mines to provide energy in former colliery towns. In this paper, we ask whose voices are represented - who speaks on behalf of disused mines, ex-miners and their families? How are they represented and representing themselves as solutions are imagined, energy sources modelled, and plans are made for the use of geothermal mine water? Moreover, does the proposed plan for geothermal energy source address their ethical, social and financial concerns?

These questions of representation are of profound moral importance. In 1956 Henriques, Dennis and Slaughter argued in their seminal ethnography of a West Yorkshire pit village, Coal is Our Life, that they did not need to speak on behalf of a British miner as he was quite capable of speaking for himself. However, in post- 'coalonial' County Durham, many of those from former mining towns have felt frustrated and unrepresented by successive governments in the decades since English coal mining was consigned to history. Consequently, it is of paramount significance to explore the processes by which lives were, and indeed are, entangled with disused, underground mines. To ask how such parties are incorporated into the area's future.

Panel Speak17a
Who speaks for energy? Responsibility and authority in the ethnographies of energy in an era of anthropogenic climate change I
  Session 1 Thursday 1 April, 2021, -