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
List of Contributors
Introduction: At Home in the Oil Sands
Clinton N. Westman, Tara L. Joly, and Lena Gross
Uncertain Sovereignty: Treaty 8, Bitumen, and Land Claims in the Athabasca Oil Sands Region
Living and Dying through Oil’s Promise: The Invisibility of Contamination and Power in Alberta’s Peace River Country
Northern Respectability: Whiteness and Improvement in Fort McMurray
Wastelanding the Bodies, Wastelanding the Land: Accidents as Evidence in the Albertan Oil Sands
Wildfire Politics: The Role of a Natural Disaster in Indigenous–State Relations
Tarje I. Wanvik
Bear Stories in the Berry Patch: Caring for Boreal Forest Fire Cycles of Respect
Janelle Marie Baker
Urban Buffalo: Métis–Bison Relations and Oil Sands Extraction in Northeastern Alberta
Tara L. Joly
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
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.