In the Australian coal mining region of the Hunter Valley, a political contest is taking shape around the mine final voids, the large holes that are left in the ground after mining has finished. This article describes an effort led by the coal lobby to fill the voids with imaginative and hopeful futures, described as a process of techno-speculative deferral. In contrast, local environmentalists (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) are drawing on dispossession and ongoing extractivism to craft an affective politics of loss around these spaces. The article considers the particular issues around the mine final voids as metonyms of the Anthropocene in order to caution against approaches which celebrate the hopefulness of ruins. Instead, the void's negativity presents an alternative analytical starting point for a politics of the Anthropocene, one which derives from Indigenous dispossession and expands to counter ongoing ruination.
Dahlgren, K. (2022). The final voids: the ambiguity of emptiness in Australian coal mine rehabilitation. The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 28(2), 537–555. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9655.13707