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Carbon Nullius and Racial Rule: Race, Nature and the Cultural Politics of Forest Carbon in Canada

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Critical geographers have paid remarkably scant attention to issues of climate change, even less so to forest carbon management policy. Building on geographic debate concerning the ontological production of nature and race, this paper argues that at stake in the climate change debate are not simply questions of energy geopolitics or green production. Also at issue in the climate debate are powerful questions of identity, the national form and race. This paper considers how a particular slice of the climate debate – forest carbon management discourse pertaining to Canada's boreal forest – enacts a political geography of racial difference, one that seeks to accommodate an imagined mode of traditional aboriginal life to the exigencies of global climate change mitigation and, importantly, to a logic of global capital now well into its ecological phase.

Keywords: aboriginal peoples; boreal forest; forest carbon management; nature; race

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK;, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2009

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