chapter  9
16 Pages

Simona L. Perry Beyond Words: The Transformative Practice (and Politics) of Digital Spatial and Visual Ethnography in a Rural Shale Gas Boomtown

Bradford County, Pennsylvania, is a rural place. In 2008 the U.S. Census reported that the county had a little more than 61,000 inhabitants spread across its 1,147 square miles of valleys and hills and concentrated within six townships. The leading source of revenue for the county was agriculture, namely dairy and veal, and the majority of employment opportunities were in manufacturing plants operated by large corporations such as Craftmaster, DuPont, Global Tungsten Powders, and Cargill, and in education, health, and social services. In July 2009, the month and year I began ethnographic fieldwork in the county, 76 Marcellus Shale or unconventional gas wells had already been drilled, and the anticipation of a “Shale Gas Boom” in jobs, family income, and county revenue was the topic of most interest to the landowners and local officials I met.