Toward a More Holistic Understanding of Uranium-Related Views and Experiences of Residents in the Four Corners Region of the United States
Date of Award:
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Sociology and Anthropology
Jessica Ulrich-Schad (Committee Co-Chair), Peggy Petrzelka (Committee Co-Chair)
Research on rural Four Corners Region (FCR) residents’ views about uranium production has focused mainly on predominately-White communities in the northern portion of the region. Meanwhile, residents in the southern part of the region, which includes the Navajo Nation and other tribal nations and communities, have dealt with the worst environmental and health effects of the uranium boom. Through a series of three studies in the southern part of the FCR, I explore the uranium-related views and experiences of racially diverse FCR residents.
In the first paper of this dissertation, I used 53 interviews to explore how sociodemographic factors (e.g., age, race, gender) were associated with attitudes about new uranium production among residents of the Grants Mining District, part of the FCR that was the epicenter of uranium activity during the uranium boom. I found that some sociodemographic groups (i.e., Native Americans, women, those with higher levels of formal education, and new residents) were more anti-uranium. In contrast, other groups (Hispanics, those with less formal education, and those with uranium industry ties) were more pro-uranium. In the second paper, I applied a recently-developed framework that considers community responses to environmental injustice as a spectrum with at least four distinct pathways to a series of interviews with residents in Blanding (n = 19)—a community located six miles away from the last operating uranium mill in the US, and 10 miles from the uranium-rich Bears Ears National Monument. I found that Blanding was situated near the middle of the spectrum and that many residents held ambivalent (complex and conflicted views) views about uranium production. In the third paper, I applied TribalCrit—a perspective focused on the experience of Indigenous peoples in American society—to better understand the uranium-related views and experiences of Indigenous FCR residents (n = 22). Participants frequently discussed distrust of the uranium industry and the US government regarding uranium issues. Some participants discussed their efforts to resist the siting of new uranium mines near their community. Taken together, the three papers in this dissertation contribute to a fuller understanding of the uranium-related views and experiences of FCR residents.
Barnett, Matthew J., "Toward a More Holistic Understanding of Uranium-Related Views and Experiences of Residents in the Four Corners Region of the United States" (2023). All Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 8746.
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