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Maps and contradictions: Urban political ecology and cartographic expertise in southern Appalachia

Gustafson, JS; (2015) Maps and contradictions: Urban political ecology and cartographic expertise in southern Appalachia. Geoforum , 60 pp. 143-152. 10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.01.017. Green open access

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Abstract

Commissioned by the State legislature after a succession of deadly and damaging landslides and decades of exurban growth on steep mountain slopes, the North Carolina Geological Survey produced a series of landslide hazard maps detailing for the public landslide prone areas of Macon County, North Carolina, USA. While widely supported at the state and local levels in 2005, by 2011, the mapping program was defunded in the state’s budget and the maps were highly politically criticized in Macon County. Even today, the maps remain unused in any legal capacity and are unknown to many residents of the region. Empirically, this article narrates the political fate of the maps in Macon County from 2005–2011 and theoretically, it draws upon a synthesis of urban political ecology (UPE), science and technology studies (STS), and critical cartography to interpret the rapid downfall of the landslide hazard maps. I show that a particular intervention of scientific expertise in exurban contradictions not only produced the maps, but also provided the political conditions for their ultimate discard. Finally, the article concludes by offering a contribution to the growing exurban studies literature as well as the ‘second wave’ of UPE.

Type: Article
Title: Maps and contradictions: Urban political ecology and cartographic expertise in southern Appalachia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.01.017
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2015.01.017
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017. This manuscript version is published under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial Non-derivative 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). This licence allows you to share, copy, distribute and transmit the work for personal and non-commercial use providing author and publisher attribution is clearly stated. Further details about CC BY licences are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0. Access may be initially restricted by the publisher.
Keywords: Urban political ecology; science and technology studies; critical cartography; exurban studies; southern appalachia; landslides
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/1540012
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