Canada is home to three quarters of the world’s mining companies, and the country also boasts the world’s single largest mining project: the Alberta tar sands. Concerns about whether or not Canada is becoming a “petro state” fold into the reality that it is already the quintessential extraction state. Canadian based companies are perpetually embroiled in disputes related to the social and environmental impacts of their activities in Canada, Latin America, South America, and Africa; meanwhile, concerns over anthropogenic climate change have centered in recent years around the tar sands, various proposed pipelines, the new “fracking” industry, renewed and expanding coal projects, and the current Government’s determination to fully develop and exploit its fossil fuel resources (rather than devote resources to a meaningful consideration of sustainable alternatives). However, the social, economic, and ecological impacts of this situation have received inadequate public attention and debate—despite the fact that the global scientific community is virtually unanimous in its dire warnings about current economic practices and their ecological and social impacts.

The State of Extraction conference builds upon the Canadian Mining and the University lecture series running over the past two years at all three SFU campuses and organized by Stephen Collis under the auspices of the Institute for the Humanities. The goal of the conference is to bring together indigenous leadership, academics, scientists, artists and public intellectuals from a variety of disciplines (many of them past participants in the Canadian Mining and the University series), activists engaged in various struggles related to resource extraction (including oil, gas, coal and precious and rare earth metals), affected communities and publics to examine the new face of resource capitalism in Canada and its influence on the world, the (lack of) public debate about such issues and the role of resource capitalism in structuring (and frustrating) such debate (with particular emphasis on the role and suppression of scientific findings), as well as models of economic and social development, with special attention to alternative models oriented towards social and environmental justice. The intention is thus to move through the full range of issues: from the economics and politics of mining, through its varied social and ecological impacts, across the terrain of social struggle and public debate, to the various alternatives to fossil fuels and current mining practices. All these many strands will be brought together through a series of presentations by leading academics and public intellectuals, cross-disciplinary roundtable discussions, open public debate, and participatory workshops.

Presenters and participants include: Rachel Ariss / Caleb Behn / Angelica Choc / Aziz Choudry / Chandu Claver / Glen Coulthard / Leila Darwish / Alain Deneault / Eriel Deranger / Rueben George / Judith Goldman / Chris Hedges / Freda Huson / Kanahus Manuel / Jennifer Moore / Melina Laboucan Massimo / Mark Nowak / Rhoda Quock / Jonathan Skinner / Toghestiy / Cory Wanless / Kevin Washbrook