Book launch panel for 'Global Warming and the Sweetness of Life: A Tar Sands Tale'

Type: Panel
Theme: Public Engagement in Geography
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM (MDT)
Room: Grand Chenier, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Organizers: Am Johal
Chairs: Geoff Mann


Confounded by global warming and in search of an affirmative politics that links ecology with social change, Matt Hern and Am Johal set off on a series of road trips to the tar sands of northern Alberta—perhaps the world’s largest industrial site, dedicated to the dirty work of extracting oil from Alberta’s vast reserves. Traveling from culturally liberal, self-consciously “green” Vancouver, and aware that our well-meaning performances of recycling and climate-justice marching are accompanied by constant driving, flying, heating, and fossil-fuel consumption, Hern and Johal want to talk to people whose lives and fortunes depend on or are imperiled by extraction. They are seeking new definitions of ecology built on a renovated politics of land. Traveling with them is their friend Joe Sacco—infamous journalist and cartoonist, teller of complex stories from Gaza to Paris—who contributes illustrations and insights and a chapter-length comic about the contradictions of life in an oil town.

Seamlessly combining travelogue, sophisticated political analysis, and ecological theory, speaking both to local residents and to leading scholars, the authors propose a new understanding of ecology that links the domination of the other-than-human world to the domination of humans by humans. They argue that any definition of ecology has to start with decolonization and that confronting global warming requires a politics that speaks to a different way of being in the world—a reconstituted understanding of the sweetness of life.

This panel will discuss the new book.


Geoff Mann is professor of geography at Simon Fraser University. He recently published 'In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Keynsianism, Political Economy and Revolution' (Verso 2017). His new book with Joel Wainwright is 'Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of our Planetary Future' (Verso 2018).

About the Authors

Matt Hern is a codirector of 2+10 Industries, teaches at multiple universities, and lectures widely. He is the author of What a City Is For: Remaking the Politics of Displacement (MIT Press) and other books.

Am Johal is Director of Simon Fraser University’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement and the author of Ecological Metapolitics: Badiou and the Anthropocene.


Glen Coulthard (PhD – University of Victoria) is a member of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and an associate professor in the First Nations and Indigenous Studies Program and the Department of Political Science. Glen has written and published numerous articles and chapters in the areas of Indigenous thought and politics, contemporary political theory, and radical social and political thought. He lives in Vancouver, Coast Salish Territories. Glen’s book, Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition (University of Minnesota Press), was released in August 2014 to critical acclaim. His co-edited book, Recognition versus Self-Determination: Dilemmas of Emancipatory Politics, was released in spring 2014 by UBC Press. He and Dr. Dory Nason were also featured contributors to the groundbreaking anthology, The Winter We Danced: Voices from the Past, the Future, and the Idle No More Movement (ARP Books), which was released to great acclaim in March 2014.

Shiri Pasternak is an Assistant Professor in Criminology at Ryerson University in Toronto. She is the author of Grounded Authority: the Algonquins of Barriere Lake Against the State, published by the University of Minnesota Press in 2017, about the Algonquins’ rejection of the federal land claims policy in Canada from the perspective of Indigenous law and jurisdiction.
From 2016-2017, she held a post as Assistant Professor in the School for the Study of Canada at Trent University. She held a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Osgoode Law (2015-2016) and in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University in New York City (2013-2015). She holds a PhD from the Department of Geography at the University of Toronto. Pasternak is a founding member of Barriere Lake Solidarity and an ally in the Defenders of the Land network. Her work has been published in a number of academic journals, including Antipode, Settler Colonial Studies, the Canadian Journal of Law and Society, and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space.

Daniela Aiello is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Geography at the University of Georgia. Her research interests include housing inequality, critical race, settler colonial studies, and community GIS. She is currently working on a comparative project on evictions in Atlanta, Georgia, and Vancouver, British Columbia, as ongoing forms of racialized dispossession and violence.


Type Details Minutes
Panelist Glen Coulthard University of British Columbia 20
Panelist Matt Hern 20
Panelist Daniela Aiello University of Georgia 20
Panelist Shiri Pasternak Columbia University 20
Panelist Am Johal SFU 20

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