Water, Land, and Energy in Alberta

Alberta is known for many things: Rocky Mountains, flat prairies, and one of the world’s largest sites of unconventional oil extraction, the oilsands or tarsands. Over the past 15 years, this project has examined the intersections of water, energy and empire in Alberta. It is a place where the circulation of ideas and policies about globalization, colonialism, economics, and technology have been applied and reworked, experimented with and abandoned.

In Alberta, the intersections of water and energy have several directions, such as from its large irrigation economy in the south and policies designed to encourage western settlers to take up farming, to a burgeoning energy sector in the north that requires large water inputs in very different enviroments. Over time, Alberta has incorporated many global ideas (often with a certain kind of gusto) in ways that attempt to keep state claims to legitimacy separate from the fact that state-building entails dispossession of Indigenous peoples, both First Nations and Métis.

This project uses archival work, policy analysis, and field research to examine how water, land, and energy have been configured in Alberta through a global transit of ideas and practices. I’ve now written several chapters of a new book on this project, which I anticipate will be completed in 2020 and hopefully out soon after that. In the meantime, I have published some material that probably won’t be in the book’s final form but which helps contribute to different disciplinary debates. These are below.


Several articles from this work are freely available (see below). They cover the Alberta case from various angles. In addition to these literature specific articles, I’m planning a new monograph on water, land, and energy in Alberta.

Publications (all available for free through links below)

Settler Geology: Earth’s deep history and the governance of in situ oil spills in Alberta. Political Geography, 2020. [PDF]

Water policy in Alberta: settler-colonialism, community, and captial [PDF Download]. Journal of the Southwest, 2017.

Water management and the procedural turn: norms and transitions in Alberta. Water Resources Management, 2014. PDF

False promises: the contours, contexts and contestation of good water governance in Lao PDR and Alberta, Canada [PDF Download] International Journal of Water Governance, 2014.

Alternative water futures [PDF DOWNLOAD] . The Parkland Institute, 2011.

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