Landscapes of the
Petro-Material Fix

Research Project
Alberta and British Columbia, CAN

2020 - ongoing

This project is part of of an ongoing collaboration with Katie Reeder, Karen Bakker, and Philippe Le Billon.
This project explores contemporary crises of fossil fuel overproduction in western Canada and subsequent attempts to resolve, or “fix”, this crisis through the expansion of Canada’s domestic petrochemical processing capacity; specifically, the manufacture of polypropylene. We use landscape as a lens through which to investigate polypropylene’s commodity chain—from unconventional gas extraction to the production of plastics—in terms of successive rounds of crisis and capital fixing. 

We coin the term petro-material fix to describe how capital’s systemic tendencies toward overproduction intersect with the unique materialities and spatio-temporalities of oil and gas, resulting in material transformations at the landscape scale. In framing our analysis through the concept of landscape, our goal is to demonstrate how the multiscalar, spatiotemporal, and relational dimensions of landscape can be used as the basis for critical inquiry into the political economy of oil and gas.

1. Aerial image of hydraulic fracuting well pads in the vicity of Fort St. John, BC. Image credit: Google Earth.