Value, Cultural Representation, and Environmental Impact Assessment

Authors: Dawn Hoogeveen*, University of British Columbia, Terre Satterfield, University of British Columbia
Topics: Resources, Environment, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Environmental Assessment, Culture, Value
Session Type: Paper


The representation of cultural concerns is increasingly addressed through discreet mechanisms, including within environmental impact assessment, the tool used to adjudicate and often approve resource extraction projects in settler states. In this paper we explore economic value, inherent to resource extraction approval processes, in conjunction with cultural values produced by and through impact assessment regulation. Strategies used to quantify cultural concerns, and particularly the impacts of resource extraction projects on indigenous rights and title, create a crucial space with the potential for meaningful representation and results. Yet cultural representations within impact assessment also have limitations in what they are able to accomplish, particularly in light of how ongoing resource development pressures are based on capitalist and extractive understandings of value. We review debates within economic and resource geographies on value and put these in conversation with how culture is constituted during impact assessment. Our aim is to provide a better understanding of the productive tensions created by and through cultural impact assessment schemes within neoliberal economies.

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