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The making of a landslide: legibility and expertise in exurban southern Appalachia

Gustafson, JS; (2015) The making of a landslide: legibility and expertise in exurban southern Appalachia. Environment and Planning A , 47 (7) pp. 1404-1421. 10.1177/0308518X15595767. Green open access

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Abstract

This article explores the changing legibility of the 2004 deadly Peeks Creek landslide in mountainous, historically rural, and rapidly urbanizing Macon County, North Carolina. The event is interesting because local media and other residents made it legible as flood, drawing on local historical experience of flooding. Months and years later, however, many of the same residents made Peeks Creek legible as a landslide. In other words, this event was not always explicitly considered a landslide, but instead had to become one. The article first argues that notions of legibility ought to be more thoroughly considered in urban political ecology scholarship. The article next demonstrates that the changing legibilities were driven by the tandem intervention of first, scientific experts in local policy discussions, and second, low-density exurban growth into landslide prone areas. The importance of this discursive shift was that landslides became legible as objects of environmental governance in a hotly contested 2010-11 county ordinance, revealing the changing and contested nature of expertise and regulation in exurbia.

Type: Article
Title: The making of a landslide: legibility and expertise in exurban southern Appalachia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/0308518X15595767
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0308518X15595767
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2015
Keywords: Urban political ecology; exurbia; landslides; legibility; southern Appalachia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Geography
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1540007
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