Coffee Hour September 9: Political Ecologies of Diamond Mining in Northern Canada

Friday, September 9, 2011 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
319 Walker Building and 112 Walker Building

On Friday, September 9, 2011, Penn State geography alumnus Kolson Schlosser, currently a visiting professor at Slippery Rock University, will present the talk based on his focus group research conducted among Inuit communities on the arctic coast in Kugluktuk, Nunavut, the largest territory in Canada.  



The global diamond industry has changed significantly in recent decades, not least in terms of its spatial configuration across the globe. This presentation first reviews some of those changes, but focuses on their material manifestations in northern Canada as Canadian diamonds are constructed as ethical alternatives to African ‘conflict diamonds.’ This study is based upon focus groups conducted in Kugluktuk, Nunavut to illustrate local perceptions of and responses to the Canadian diamond industry. Such perspectives are crucial to better inform and historicize industry mobilizations of ‘fair trade’ rhetoric to market Canadian diamonds. Fair trade rhetorics often rely on consumer anxieties about social justice, anxieties which need to be seen in the context of both positive and negative perceptions in Inuit communities about long term cultural and social change. This is important in order to more fully understand meaning and power within diamond commodity chains. Doing so helps show ‘ethical consumption’ as part of an ongoing process of commoditization rather than as a consumer-directed social movement. Putting the issues in these terms also helps analyze how power is mobilized at multiple sites and multiple spatial and temporal scales, and how this morphs onto local realities in Kugluktuk. To learn more about Nunavut, visit:


Speaker Bio

Kolson Schlosser obtained a PhD in Penn State’s Department of Geography in 2007, and is currently a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Geography, Geology and Environment at Slippery Rock University. His current research focuses on the political ecology of mineral resource extraction in northern North America, particularly as it intersects with the global diamond industry, though he has also published on the topics of oil development in Alaska, theories of bio-politics, and nationalism. His dissertation at Penn State was a historical geography of population-resource theory as it impacted U.S. foreign policy in the early Cold War.