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

Extracting Home in the Oil Sands

Settler Colonialism and Environmental Change in Subarctic Canada, 1st Edition

Edited by Clinton N. Westman, Tara L. Joly, Lena Gross


208 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780815356653
pub: 2019-12-09
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pub: 2019-12-06
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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


About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Arctic Worlds

Communities, Political Ecology and Ways of Knowing

This series aims to integrate research from across the circumpolar Arctic from across the humanities, social sciences, and history of science. This region – once exotised as a remote and unknown "blank spot"– is now acknowledged to be the homeland of a variety of indigenous nations, many of whom have won or are seeking home rule. 

The Arctic was the central axis of frozen confrontation during the Cold War. At the start of the 21st century it is a resource hinterland offering supplies of petroleum and minerals for aggressively new markets with great cost and risk to the environment. 

The indigenous nations of the region are unique for their "ways of knowing" which approach animals and landscape as alive, sentient entities. Many share cultural commonalities across the Arctic Ocean, sketching out a human community that unites disparate continents.

This series will take history seriously by bringing together archaeological work on ancient Arctic societies with ethnohistorical studies of the alternate idioms by which time and meaning are understood by circumpolar peoples, as well as science and technology studies of how the region is perceived by various scientific communities.

Submitting a proposal

The series welcomes proposals for both (co)authored and (co)edited books on these topics. Book proposals should be sent to the Routledge editor: [email protected]

For guidance on how to structure your proposal, please visit: www.routledge.com/info/authors.

Editorial Advisory Board:

Dmitry Arzyutov, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology, Russia
Hiroki Takakura, Tohoku University, Japan
Per Axelsson, Umeå University, Sweden


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General