Sam Gaffney


Ph.D. Student in Communication, UC San Diego // 2017 – Present
BMus/BA (Honours), ANU // 2010 – 2015
AMusA in Violin Performance, AMEB // 2009

Research Interests

I’m a researcher from Australia with a mixed background in music, philosophy, and anthropology. My research has a focus on Australian coal country – in particular, the coal mining industry around the Hunter Valley in NSW. I am currently exploring questions around the politicization of coal, both in the past and present advocacy of coal mining unions and in the various ways that coal is rhetorically mobilized. Other interests informing my work relate to the practice of land reclamation and (how it obscures) its ecological effects, the infrastructure and logistics that support and sustain the coal industry, and how the future of coal and its alternatives are imagined (by miners, managers, laypeople) amidst talk of ‘an industry in decline’. 

Research Keywords

Coal, extractivism, labor and labor history, environmentalism and environmental justice, techno-idealism, infrastructure.