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(Not so) crude text and images: staging Native in 'big oil' advertising

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Transnational energy companies' representations of Indigenous bodies and landscape in corporate advertising and social responsibility reporting can be thought of as staged and operating on more than one level of meaning. Understanding these representations as performative makes clear these are ongoing social and cultural constructs embedded in a body of discourse that is marked by White culture's own desire for permanence and fixity in relation to a privileged positioning. The staging of Native bodies and landscapes, in part intended to allay growing public concerns about environmental impacts associated with fossil fuel production, is achieved through the strategic use of images and text. Semiological analysis helps to make explicit the manner in which oil and gas transnationals' displaying of a racialised Native subject in the context of 'partnership' serves as a greenwashing strategy consistent with Canada's own dominant national narratives. Recognising advertisements and corporate social responsibility reports not as neutral knowledge but as sites of knowledge production reveals myths and stereotypes that serve to prevent, rather than encourage, true sustainability.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14725860802489908

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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