FEATURED PROJECTS

This page features research projects and collaborations inside and outside of the academy by FERN co-founders, contributors and partners.

Biopolitical Disaster

Biopolitical Disaster employs a grounded analysis of the production and lived-experience of biopolitical life in order to illustrate how disaster production and response are intimately interconnected. The book is organized into four parts, each revealing how socio-environmental consequences of instrumentalist environmentalities produce disastrous settings and political experiences that are evident in our contemporary world.

Beginning with "Commodifying crisis," the volume focuses on the inherent production of disaster that is bound to the crisis tendency of capitalism. The second part, "Governmentalities of disaster," addresses material and discursive questions of governance, the role of the state, as well as questions of democracy. This part explores the linkage between problematic environmental rationalities and policies. Third, the volume considers how and where the (de)valuation of life itself takes shape within the theme of "Affected bodies," and investigates the corporeal impacts of disastrous biopolitics. The final part, "Environmental aesthetics and resistance," fuses concepts from affect theory, feminist studies, post-positivism, and contemporary political theory to identify sites and practices of political resistance to biopower.

Biopolitical Disaster will be of great interest to postgraduates, researchers, and academic scholars working in Political ecology; Geopolitics; Feminist critique; Intersectionality; Environmental politics; Science and technology studies; Disaster studies; Political theory; Indigenous studies; Aesthetics; and Resistance.

https://www.routledge.com/Biopolitical-Disaster/Lawrence-Wiebe/p/book/9781032096735

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Affiliated FERN members: Jennifer Lawrence and Sarah Marie Wiebe

Everyday Exposure

Near the Ontario-Michigan border, Canada’s densest concentration of chemical manufacturing surrounds the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. Living in the polluted heart of Chemical Valley, members of this Indigenous community express concern about a declining rate of male births in addition to abnormal rates of miscarriage, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses.

While starvation policies and smallpox-laced blankets might be an acknowledged part of Canada’s past, this book reveals how the colonial legacy of inflicting harm on Indigenous bodies persists through a system that fails to adequately address health and ecological suffering in First Nations communities.

Everyday Exposure uncovers the systemic injustices faced on a daily basis in Aamjiwnaang. By exploring the problems that Canada’s conflicting levels of jurisdiction pose for the creation of environmental justice policy, analyzing clashes between Indigenous and scientific knowledge, and documenting the experiences of Aamjiwnaang residents as they navigate their toxic environment, this book argues that social and political change requires an experiential and transformative “sensing policy” approach, one that takes the voices of Indigenous citizens seriously.

Everyday Exposure will interest scholars in the fields of environmental justice, environmental health, Indigenous studies, geography, and political science, as well as those interested in community-engaged research, policy makers, and activists.

Winner of the 2017 Charles Taylor Book Award. 

https://www.ubcpress.ca/everyday-exposure

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Affiliated FERN members:  Sarah Marie Wiebe

Reimagining Attawapiskat

In response to heightened media attention placing Attawapiskat in the spotlight, Reimagining Attawapiskat aims to create a more nuanced portrayal of what life is like from multiple perspectives. This youth-driven project is a collaborative initiative between artists within the community and art educators who share a passion for mixed media storytelling and community health.

Building from the creative strengths of youth artists in the community, Reimagining Attawapiskat aims to be part of a broader conversation about co-creating counter-stories to mainstream media narratives. The project uses a mixed media digital storytelling approach and involves a research team comprised of artists and researchers based at the University of Victoria/Coast Salish Territory. Project participants contribute to a deepened sense of understanding about cree culture, treaties and environmental justice.

By focusing on local images, voices and stories, this project seeks to enable a wider conversation about this place community members call their home. This project began by encouraging Attawapiskat senior art students to produce postcards from their artworks in order to circulate images of their community on their own terms. Through diverse media, ranging from digital storytelling, to music videos and postcards, project participants contribute to a more meaningful dialogue about Cree culture while celebrating and honouring their ties to the territory, including land and water. 

https://www.reimaginingattawapiskat.com/

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Affiliated FERN members:  Sarah Marie Wiebe

To Fish as Formerly

On August 9th, 2014, the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation went reef net fishing to reclaim a practice that the colonial government outlawed a hundred years ago. Nick Claxton (XEMŦOLTW̱), Tsawout community member and PhD. Candidate in UVic’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has made it his life’s work to revitalize the reef net fishery (SX̱OLE) in his community. Over the past year he built a reef net model alongside students and teachers in a local school, ȽÁU, WELṈEW̱ Tribal School. The project was so successful that teachers throughout the school—math teachers, science teachers, socials teachers—began to teach their subjects through the model net.

 

Meanwhile, with the help of their relatives at the Lummi Nation (Washington, US) who had recently undergone a process of reef net resurgence, Nick and members of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation began to build the first W̱SÁNEĆ-made reef net in over a hundred years. In an act that will go down in history as the resurgence of a core part of the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation’s social, economic, spiritual, and educational society, the reef net was set at a hereditary fishing location (SWÁLET) off of Pender Island on August 9th, 2014. 

 

This short video will give you a sense of the power of that day and what it means to “carry on our fisheries as formerly,” as agreed to in the Douglas Treaty signed by the Saanich people in 1852.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTQk1IR9ibc

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Affiliated FERN members:  Sarah Marie Wiebe

SeaScapes

As global demands for energy rise, British Columbia's (BC) resource-rich land and waters generate increased debate about precisely how energy development will take place. In recent years three high-profile pipeline proposals have attracted particular debate: Enbridge Inc.'s Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan and Keystone XL (Garvey 2015). These energy infrastructure projects offer new opportunities and connections and also impose new environmental, social, and cultural challenges (see Collaborator: Bagelman 2015). While energy companies have mapped the anticipated impact of energy development on Indigenous communities in BC, many communities have expressed that these representations are inadequate (Garvey 2015). In particular, coastal communities have identified that there remains a scarcity of engaged research tools to examine the lived impact of offshore oil and tanker traffic on marine environments (see Co-applicant: Menzies 2015). It is our goal to understand these limitations and enhance coastal Indigenous peoples' capacity to document and publicly communicate their own experiences.

 

Our project co-develops innovative research tools with coastal communities to facilitate much needed reconciliation on the pressing question of resource development in Canada capitalizing on innovative community mapping. We believe that it is essential to promote modes of representation that are developed with and by Indigenous communities, and in the places that they live.

 

Our project proposes to develop an interactive Indigenous-led research toolkit: the 'SeaSCAPE: Indigenous Storytelling Studio' designed to facilitate meaningful assessment of community's thoughts on, and representations of, energy development.This Studio is a set of multi-modal mobile storytelling tools that can travel to selected communities.

 

Our collaborative research team will offer on-site training and communities will become key drivers in developing these tools according to their own needs for representation. As such, our project promotes a new model for public engagement on one of the most pressing issues facing Canada today in a manner that brings marginalized voices to the fore.

 

This project will develop digital storytelling tools which then can travel and be used by further communities in an effort to nourish Indigenous ways of representing and communicating (Menzies 2007) not only impacts of energy development, but also other natural resource development proposals.

https://cognit.ca/en/research/project/108030

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Affiliated FERN members:  Sarah Marie Wiebe