Western Division of the Canadian Association of Geographers (WDCAG) 2021 Conference
Hosted by the University of Lethbridge
Biocultural Nation Making: Biopolitics, Cultural-Territorial Belonging, and Canadian National Protected Areas
James Stinson (York University) and Libby Lunstrum (Boise State University)
Friday, March 5, 2021
6:00-7:00 p.m. MT
Join us on Zoom (advance registration not required)
This paper draws together the disconnected literatures on biopolitics and nation-making to advance the concept of biocultural nation-making. We build from this to illustrate how nations are cultivated through deeply intertwined processes of biological and cultural-territorial production. We ground this in recent re-framings of Canadian national parks, highlighting how these “natural” environments are increasingly promoted as key to the physical, cultural, and economic well-being of the Canadian nation. Here, state conservation organizations promote park visitation as a means of, first, enabling an active, healthy, and economically productive national population. Second, parks are promoted on the grounds that they enable the experience of distinctively Canadian landscapes and places of national inclusion, especially as parks work to attract non-traditional visitors including immigrants, urban communities, and youth. Parks, in short, have become vehicles of biocultural, and increasingly neoliberal, nation-making. While there are indeed affirmative aspects to this, we also highlight hidden limitations and exclusions tied to the embrace of neoliberal logic, liberal multiculturalism, and the ongoing erasure of Indigenous communities.