Anthropology professor Anastasia Hudgins presented a paper at the annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association in San Francisco on November 15, 2012.
Hudgins presented "Money Talks, Health Walks: Discourses Framing Fracking in Rural Pennsylvania” in a panel titled “Energy, Environment, Engagement: Anthropological Encounters with Hydraulic Fracking."
This paper explores the ways people in a rural county in Southwest Pennsylvania perceive themselves to be affected by hydraulic fracturing. The study, still in early stages, focuses primarily on a group of long-term renters in a trailer court situated adjacent to a fracking well pad and a containment pond where the chemical and water admixture from the fracking process is stored. Rooted in an analysis of the influence of community networks and people’s relationships to the land, this paper examines the ways people talk about the health impacts of fracking, and situates it as an extension of the long history of extraction in this area, including coal mining, shallow well natural gas drilling and oil drilling. Dominant discourses in this economically depressed area frame fracking as a financial boon to the county, rendering irrelevant, even suspect, discussion about the relationship between the environment and health. Reports based on preliminary data collection will focus on how relationships among community members influence competing discourses surrounding fracking.