How Deep is the Pit? Economic Externalities, Cultural Sustainability and the Environment in Contemporary Nova Scotian Mining Fiction
MetadataShow full item record
Mining has been a central industry in Pictou County and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia for hundreds of years, but though it has economic benefits, it also has significant social and environmental damages. These negative externalities largely outweigh positive impacts, and are memorialized in Nova Scotian novels including No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod, The Glace Bay Miners’ Museum by Sheldon Currie, and Twenty-Six by Leo McKay Jr. This project approaches the depiction of mining in these texts from an interdisciplinary ecocritical perspective to question the relationship between mining, the environment, and culture. Textual analysis reveals that externalities are shown as a consequence of industrialization, as a disruption to family and community cohesion, as a detriment to environmental sustainability, as a detriment to Scottish Gaelic cultural sustainability, and as a catalyst for social and political change among the characters. This project also suggests that together the imaginative representation of externalities and natural imagery can create empathy for characters and the environment and that empathy could cause readers to take action on social and environmental issues that the authors depict. Ultimately, the novels could motivate societal change like stopping or mitigating mining’s negative externalities and thus could contribute to a sustainable future.