1st Edition

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

Edited By Clinton Westman, Tara Joly, Lena Gross Copyright 2020
    226 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    226 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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



    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.