Extracting Home in the Oil Sands : Settler Colonialism and Environmental Change in Subarctic Canada book cover
1st Edition

Extracting Home in the Oil Sands
Settler Colonialism and Environmental Change in Subarctic Canada

ISBN 9780815356653
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
226 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Canadian oil sands are one of the world’s most important energy sources and the subject of global attention in relation to climate change and pollution. This volume engages ethnographically with key issues concerning the oil sands by working from anthropological literature and beyond to explore how people struggle to make and hold on to diverse senses of home in the region. The contributors draw on diverse fieldwork experiences with communities in Alberta that are affected by the oil sands industry. Through a series of case studies, they illuminate the complexities inherent in the entanglements of race, class, Indigeneity, gender, and ontological concerns in a regional context characterized by extreme extraction. The chapters are unified in a common concern for ethnographically theorizing settler colonialism, sentient landscapes, and multispecies relations within a critical political ecology framework and by the prominent role that extractive industries play in shaping new relations between Indigenous Peoples, the state, newcomers, corporations, plants, animals, and the land.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Zoe Todd


List of Contributors

Introduction: At Home in the Oil Sands

Clinton N. Westman, Tara L. Joly, and Lena Gross

Chapter 1

Uncertain Sovereignty: Treaty 8, Bitumen, and Land Claims in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region

Hereward Longley

Chapter 2

Living and Dying through Oil’s Promise: The Invisibility of Contamination and Power in Alberta’s Peace River Country

Tristan Lee-Jones

Chapter 3

Northern Respectability: Whiteness and Improvement in Fort McMurray

Sam Spady

Chapter 4

Wastelanding the Bodies, Wastelanding the Land: Accidents as Evidence in the Albertan Oil Sands

Lena Gross

Chapter 5

Wildfire Politics: The Role of a Natural Disaster in Indigenous–State Relations

Tarje I. Wanvik

Chapter 6

Bear Stories in the Berry Patch: Caring for Boreal Forest Fire Cycles of Respect

Janelle Marie Baker

Chapter 7

Urban Buffalo: Métis–Bison Relations and Oil Sands Extraction in Northeastern Alberta

Tara L. Joly

Chapter 8

Reclaiming Nature? Watery Transformations and Mitigation Landscapes in the Oil Sands Region

Katherine Wheatley and Clinton N. Westman

Conclusion: Studying the Social and Cultural Impacts of "Extreme Extraction" in Northern Alberta

Patricia A. McCormack


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Clinton N. Westman is an environmental anthropologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Tara L. Joly is Research Director at Willow Springs Strategic Solutions, Inc. in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. She recently received her PhD in social anthropology from the University of Aberdeen, UK.

Lena Gross recently completed her PhD in social anthropology at the University of Oslo, Norway.