John Gaventa

Jack Beckford on the Student Health Coalition Legacy Fund

Jack Beckford offers insight into the role the Student Health Coalition Legacy Fund has played in uncovering and supporting ongoing work on issues in Appalachia related to the SHC’s activism in the 1960s and 70s. He lists Appalshop, the Highlander Center, the St. Charles Clinic, and John Gaventa’s research into land ownership as just a …

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On mutual aid, solidarity, and different interactions of power

John Gaventa describes the concepts of mutual aid and solidarity as exemplified by different interactions of power. He explains that action against injustice is built from the coalition of power within ourselves and power with each other. Together, these fuel the power to challenge oppressive systems, those with power over. He references Marie Cirillo with …

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The “Appalachianization” of rural America and around the world

John Gaventa discusses the “Appalachianization” of rural America, a trend of rising inequality, poverty, environmental damage, and deficit of public services across the U.S. No longer the exception, Gaventa emphaszies injustice in the Clearfork Valley as being relevant to the global stage, too–such as in Mozambique and Nigeria, mineral-rich countries where absentee land ownership and …

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Rethinking quiescence: “hidden transcripts” of community agency

John Gaventa reflects on his early conclusions about the role of quiescence in the Clearfork Valley, recognizing now that he may have under-appreciated ongoing forms of resistance, such as through storytelling, music, and other invisible acts. He pulls on political sociologist James Scott’s concept of “hidden transcripts” to further explain how people may exercise agency …

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On paternalistic industrialism: Alexander Arthur and the American Association

John Gaventa describes the British paternalism characteristic of late 19th-century industrialists, a philosophy that harnessed absentee land ownership in pursuit of capitalist economic gain. He references Alexander Arthur, Scottish-born entrepreneur, engineer, and president of the American Association, the British investment group that funded absentee land acquisition and industrial development across the Cumberland Gap, as a …

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On the interplay between land ownership and mineral rights

John Gaventa clarifies the interplay between surface land ownership and the exploitative acquisition of below-ground mineral rights by large coal companies in Appalachia. He cites The American Association, a British company that at one time owned 80,000 acres across Clairborne, Bell, Campbell, and Whitley Counties in East Tennessee, as a prime example of absentee corporate …

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The Appalachian Land Ownership Study: an emblem of citizen-driven participatory action research

John Gaventa further describes how the 1977 flood mobilized citizens toward supplementary research into the inequities connected to land ownership, taxation practices, and other local power dynamics. They requested funding from the ARC for what over time developed into the Appalachian Land Ownership Study, an effort that involved close review of courthouse tax records in …

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