Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Davis, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9644
Approve DateApril 16, 2018
Project TitleHayes, Dr. Lauren A., U. of California, Davis, CA - To aid research on 'Creating 'Silicon Holler': High-Tech Labor Transformation in the Coalfields of Appalachia'
DR. LAUREN A HAYES, University of California, Davis, California, was awarded funding in April 2018 to aid research on “Creating ‘Silicon Holler’: High-Tech Labor Transformation in the Coalfields of Appalachia” This project explores the localization of global software coding and high-tech machining technology in rural Appalachia in an area that local leaders have recently dubbed “Silicon Holler”—a play on Silicon Valley, the U.S. technology hub, and a lexical term similar to valley in local speech varieties. It explores the experiences of former coal, industrial, and service workers who are being recruited by public and private initiatives to enroll in high-tech work development programs. The research investigates how local leaders, companies, trainees, and workers navigate new work rhythms and tech culture logics of individual cognitive labor value and confront dominant local ideals of a gendered work narrative. Preliminary findings show how individuals use economic, narrative, and symbolic strategies to market Appalachian work ethic and create individual work identities that are mobile and globally connected yet also rooted to a sense of home and place. The research adds complexity to global anthropological debates concerning the sustainability of coal mining and the fossil fuel industry, the lived experience and gendered implications of technological globalization, and the effects of job loss and re-training in neoliberal capitalism.