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Mining sacred space: law’s enactment of competing ontologies in the American West

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  • Melinda Harm Benson

Abstract

Current controversies regarding uranium mining in the American West are about more than competing legal requirements; they are about competing conceptualizations of space that are grounded in different ontologies. Laws—in this case the General Mining Law of 1872 and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966—play a performative role by enacting and materializing these ontologies. The occupation of New Mexico’s Mt. Taylor both by ‘old’ and by ‘new’ legal forms provides an opportunity to examine their corresponding spatiality. The National Historic Preservation Act, in particular, creates an interesting ‘new space’ that may have the capacity to challenge Eurocentric notions of ownership. Keywords: legal geography, legal studies, ontology, property, American West, mining

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  • Melinda Harm Benson, 2012. "Mining sacred space: law’s enactment of competing ontologies in the American West," Environment and Planning A, Pion Ltd, London, vol. 44(6), pages 1443-1458, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:pio:envira:v:44:y:2012:i:6:p:1443-1458
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