Connecting the dots: Scale-jumping and coalition building in anti-colonial activism

Authors: Liam Fox*, Simon Fraser University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography, Economic Geography
Keywords: settler colonialism, capitalist nature, resource extraction, infrastructure, activism, resistance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/11/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Studio 4, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


On October 28, 2017, protestors gathered on the beaches of Whey-ah-wichan (Vancouver, British Columbia) and took to kayaks to block marine construction on Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline extension—one of three massive oil infrastructure projects in the contested territory called Canada. In this paper, I examine this organized, direct-action form of political engagement, the vision of which looks beyond a mere politics of recognition (Coulthard, 2014) toward strategies that can directly challenge the expansion of capitalist colonial nature. At what some have dubbed ‘Canada’s Standing Rock’, this form of local politics is founded in a “militant particularism” (Harvey, 1995), a resistance politics that is locally-based but has global ambitions. The paper assembles an intensive case study of one particular set of protests at the Burnaby terminal construction site, examining the ways that activists realized a scale-jumping politics (Smith, 1992) that put a sizeable nail in the coffin of the Trans Mountain project. This set of protests hints at a formidable coalition of settler and colonized people, the blueprint for which is central to any Left project going forward.

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