Resisting settler colonial extractivism through alternative mine remediation practices

Authors: Caitlynn Beckett*, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Topics: Resources, Environmental Justice, Canada
Keywords: Mine remediation, settler colonialism, extractivism, environmental justice
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 36
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Contaminated landscapes such as landfills, oil sands, mine tailings, and industrial sites represent some of the most complex, painful, and power-laden places in contemporary society, especially alongside mounting concerns surrounding widescale climate change. Dramatic images of such landscapes are fodder for critical conversations about extractivism, consumerism, capital accumulation, and waste and the ethical obligations humans have to limit, mediate and reverse such destructive forces. These conversations often come to head in the closure phases of extractive development, which have complex socio-economic and cultural impacts on local communities. Yet, the colonial and community care dimensions of post-industrial landscapes typically receive less attention than technical solutions. In fact, mine closure and remediation, rather than offering an opportunity for healing from past extractive violence, often results in continued dispossession as the ‘value’ of remediation contracts are extracted and funneled elsewhere. In response, my PhD research explores alternative structures for remediation governance, challenges normative definitions of remediation, and evaluates how settler-colonial environmental regulations address remediation projects. I am inspired by the community dimensions of caring for post-industrial landscapes through two case studies: the Faro Remediation Project in Yukon, Canada and the Closure Planning Committee for the Raglan Mine in Nunavik, Québec, Canada. Using the theoretical lenses of political ecology, settler colonialism and science and technology studies, I reflect on how experimental, participatory-action research for remediation can be done ethically with mining impacted communities over extended periods of time, as communities plan for future landscapes that will need to be cared for in perpetuity.

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