Research has highlighted the relationship between production expansion and the creation of sacrifice zones in advanced capitalist economies. Yet, less attention has focused on the establishment of such regions within authoritarian, state-socialist countries. We draw theoretical and conceptual insights from treadmill of production theory and the Gramscian theory of hegemony to delineate the interaction between legitimation processes used by authoritarian states to justify the physical destruction of the environment. Our analysis focuses on the historic case of environmental destruction in Czechoslovakia’s North Bohemian coal mining region. We analyze data from various sources, including in-depth interviews with residents, state media articles, and state archival sources. We find that the interactive processes of coercion, domination, and consent were used to propel the development and legitimation of environmental exploitation in this area. We argue that these processes, and the resultant sacrifice zones, are a central component of the treadmill of production. We conclude by discussing the implications of our results for further analyses of sacrifice zones.

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