The place of oil in Manitoba: a critical place inquiry
Wheeler, Mya Joylynn
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The purpose of this dissertation research is to advance critical place inquiry (CPI) as a methodological lens within the field of natural resources and environmental management (NREM) by critically examining how the practices of oil and gas extraction happen and continue to operate in Manitoba through the lived realities of oil extraction. I analyze Manitoba’s oil and gas extraction using a critical place inquiry approach articulated by Tuck and McKenzie (2015). I use qualitative methods of discourse analysis, semi-structured interviews, participant observation and feedback surveys to collect data, and draw on feminist material-semiotic methods for analysis. Using this approach revealed the practices and components that create an ongoing place of oil in Manitoba, particularly the way settler colonialism conditions the relationships to land in the south-western corner of Manitoba, facilitating the extraction of oil and making it difficult to question or change these practices. My findings indicate that this occurs in several ways; the production of information by and for industry, information precarity displayed in lack of access to information and lack of capacity at the government level to keep up with or produce analysis of information when concerns arise. There is also the ongoing naturalization of oil extraction as a “matter of fact,” and a study of two advocacy organizations that work (and worked) to change legislation regarding oil and gas practices but ultimately are unable to create significant change to the practices of oil in Manitoba. The conclusions I draw relate to the practices that create and condition spatial-temporal relationships to land, bringing into being the ongoing place of oil, a contingent place that is both maintained but also resisted. These conclusions also point to how our methodological understandings about spacetime in NREM limit our conceptualization of place, which in turn limit our ability to think broadly (across spacetime) about why certain places exist and the way research can be enrolled to uphold or resist status quo resource relationships.
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