Extractive Hegemony in the Arctic: Energy Resources and Political Conflict in Nunavut, 1970-2017
Bernauer, Warren Max
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This dissertation explains how Nunavuts government and Inuit organizations have come to support an economy based on extraction and consent to especially controversial forms of energy extraction. To this end, it examines conflicts over energy resource extraction specifically uranium mining in the Kivalliq region and oil and gas extraction in the Qikiqtani region from 1970 until the present. It uses the concept of hegemony as a framework to analyze these conflicts and their implications for the relationship between Inuit and the mining industry. The cases I examined show that the Canadian state responded to Inuit resistance to uranium and hydrocarbon extraction with a series of processes and mechanisms including environmental assessment, land use planning, land claims, and the legal discourse of Aboriginal rights which were structured to persuade Inuit to consent to an economy based on extraction. These mechanisms and processes all imposed economic compromises between Inuit and extractive capital. These compromises involved material sacrifices on the part of capital and served as enticements for Inuit to consent to extraction. Environmental assessment, planning, land claims, and Aboriginal rights also performed the ideological function of depoliticizing extraction. By providing depoliticized forums for discussing proposed extraction, they further facilitated the development of alliances between extractive capital and various institutions and social groups in Nunavut. These findings have important implications for scholarly debates about Canadian colonialism, environmental assessment, land claim agreements, and the duty to consult.