Contested Lands: Territory, Resources, and Identity in Contemporary Canada

Sep 30, 2017
School of Architecture, Betts Auditorium



Event Description


Map of Canada showing geographic boundaries of various methods of indexing
Lola Sheppard and Mason White, “Canada’s Many Norths,” spread from Many Norths: Spacial Practice in a Polar Territory (Actar, June 2017).

The Princeton Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities and the Program in Canadian Studies at Princeton University are pleased to announce a symposium considering the relationship between natural resources, territorial management, and issues of sovereignty in contemporary Canada.

Within a centuries-long struggle for justice, the recent intensification of the activities of exploitation of natural resources economy has raised pressing questions of sovereignty between First Nations, the Canadian federal government, and local municipalities and provincial authorities. First Nations citizens have challenged practices relating to the management and equitable redistribution of resources and impact of production, and tied these discussions to broader questions of ecology, demography, and political representation. These contested positions appear to be most legible in regions such as the Alberta tar-sands or around the hydroelectric power stations of Northern Quebec, but all such discussions have raised questions about who owns the land and its resources, and what models of development and governance will help the peoples of Canada most effectively address issues of climate change and sustainability. Such tendencies are inscribed within a wider rethinking of the political landscape of the country, its history and the relationships between its different communities, represented in the new treaties being negotiated and signed between First Nations and different branches of government.

By including different voices from activists, practitioners and scholars, the symposium “Contested Lands: Territory, Resources, and Identity in Contemporary Canada” will analyze and discuss the complexity of the current debate within Canada around two key themes resources and territories. These entities, objects of top-down policies of development and exploitation, which are the legacies of the colonial past, have become, once again, contested sites around which activism and scholarly activity have coalesced. We also hope the conference will help us “reset the North American” by focusing on how Canadian scholars are generating new frameworks through which to study land, resources, and territory.

  • The Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism & the Humanities
  • Program in Canadian Studies