chapter  4
18 Pages

Selling Nature in a Resource- Based Economy: Romantic/Extractive

WithGazes and Alberta’s Bituminous Sands Geo Takach

Recent literature has explored the interplay between the Romantic gaze and the extractive gaze to conclude that in separating people from nature, both gazes function similarly to subordinate the land to human purposes. Such representations may be seen as part of a wider trend in which media visualizations of nature are based on an implicit ideology, tending to perpetuate and justify existing power relations; those visualizations use images which are increasingly abstract or iconic, and which by force of repetition, replace alternative representations and obscure connections to societal processes such as globalism and consumerism. This article takes up and extends that argument to a critical visual discourse analysis of an official place-branding slideshow produced by the Province of Alberta (Canada), which boasts an economy based significantly on producing non-renewable fossil fuels. In examining that slideshow in terms of Romantic/extractive gazes, this study situates Alberta’s rebranding on Corbett’s continuum of anthropocentric-ecocentric values; interrogates connections among Alberta’s rebranding and invisible flows of power at work in broader, underlying societal processes like globalization, Neoliberalism and consumerism; and tests the commonality of the relationship between extractive and Romantic gazes in light of those processes.