‘After Coal’ Documentary Produced By ASU's Thomas Hansell Adapted As Book (2018-10-03 15:18:33)

When fossil fuels run out, how do communities whose livelihoods depend on these resources survive? What happens to their cultures?

“After Coal,” a feature-length documentary produced by Appalachian State University’s Thomas Hansell, explores how coal-mining communities in South Wales and Appalachia have survived long after the coal industry has moved on. The book adaptation of the film, “After Coal: Stories of Survival in Appalachia and Wales,” will be released by West Virginia University Press in November.

Hansell is assistant professor in Appalachian’s Appalachian studies program, which is housed within the university’s College of Arts and Sciences, as well as co-director of Appalachian’s University Documentary Film Services, a unit of Appalachian's University College. He also teaches courses within Appalachian’s Honors College.

“After Coal” was released in 2016 and has already been screened at many international and domestic film festivals, as well as on public television.

“Many documentary films focus on the problems left by a declining coal industry in the Appalachian region instead of discussing how solutions from global coal-mining regions can inspire sustainable community development,” Hansell said.

Hansell presented “After Coal” on two continents in spring 2018. In February, he traveled to Japan to screen the documentary at conferences hosted by Osaka University and Japan Women’s University, and discussed the effects of deindustrialization on global communities.

In March, “After Coal” was screened at a conference titled “Boom, Crisis, Heritage: King Coal and the Energy Revolutions after 1945,” which was hosted by the Deutsches Bergbau-Museum in Bochum, Germany. The film also screened at the Dortmunder U cinema in Dortmund, Germany.

“Because of a willingness to explore the complex connections between place, culture, work and industry that seemed similar in Wales and Appalachia, the Center for Appalachian Studies has built relationships for the past 40 years that offer international contexts for better understanding Appalachia,” said Sandra Ballard, editor of the university’s Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review.

“This American region becomes ‘global’ because of an exchange of information between two mountain regions on different continents,” she added.

“After Coal: Stories of Survival in Appalachia and Wales” is available for preorder from the West Virginia University Press website at

Article written by Ellen Gwin Burnette and Jessica Stump, courtesy of Appalachian State University

Photo by Ellen Gwin Burnette