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Inevitable Extraction, Colonial Security, and the Making Recoverable of Unconventional Oil


Inevitable Extraction, Colonial Security, and the Making Recoverable of Unconventional Oil

Pringle, Anna (2016) Inevitable Extraction, Colonial Security, and the Making Recoverable of Unconventional Oil. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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In 2002, the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta were re-classified as recoverable. This recovery required, and requires, a vision of the region that is long in the making; a vision that emerges within a history of colonialism. I begin by tracing out how post-Cold War imaginaries of the tar sands presented the resource as crucial to the future viability of North American ‘democratic’ states. These envisionings of energy security, I argue, build, and tap into, prior colonial imaginaries of the region as wild and empty. In my first chapter, I look at how the Boreal forests of Athabasca had to be emptied out of certain dissenting interrelations and populations in order for oil to appear, although, this emptying out was never completely successful. Subsequently, in my second chapter, I build on this argument by contemplating how shifting discourses of wildness, legality, order, safety, and violence, allowed land to become frontier while granting legitimacy to colonial regimes of violence. I conclude by examining how prior visions of abundance acted as the extractive scaffolding for the 2002 recovery. What I hope to emphasize is that the visions of abundance in 2002 are interwoven with long-held colonial anxieties surrounding security. Further, the recovering of resources in Alberta was never inevitable, rather, it occurred through a multiplicity of encounters, between both human and nonhuman communities, all brimming with contingency. I close by posing the question, how can we radically re-imagine the land, each other, and deeply ingrained notions of security, violence, and belonging?

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Pringle, Anna
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Media Studies
Date:January 2016
Thesis Supervisor(s):van Wyck, Peter C.
Keywords:extraction; oil; settler colonialism; landscape; wild; law; empty; imagination; future; abundance; energy security; frontier; speculative; Athabasca tar sands
ID Code:980840
Deposited By: ANNA PRINGLE
Deposited On:07 Jun 2016 19:31
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:52


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