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Workshops & seminars

Workshop: Investigating Fossil Capitalism – Challenges, Reflections, Strategies

Friday, January 21, 2022
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Registration is closed


William Carroll, James Rowe, Jessica Dempsey, Emily Eaton


This event is free


Chris Hurl



In this workshop, members of the Corporate Mapping Project will reflect on their research strategies investigating the influence of the oil and gas sector in Canada. The workshop will include short presentations by four researchers, to be followed by in-depth discussion on the challenges of research.

William Carroll
Critical research strategies in the Corporate Mapping Project

Abstract: This presentation reflects on the Mapping Project in its seven-year investigation into the organization of corporate power in and around fossil capital. The Project has strived to present a complex analysis of modalities of economic, political and cultural power, using a range of data sources and methods (network analysis, critical discourse analysis, participatory action research, etc.) to expose a regime of obstruction while mobilizing knowledge of value to social-movement agency. This approach has met with limited success, and it is worthwhile to reflect on both the success and the limits.

James Rowe and Jessica Dempsey
An Insecure Future: Canada’s Biggest Pension Plan is Still Banking on Fossil Fuels

Abstract: The Canada Pension Plan – which is worth half a trillion dollars – could be positively contributing toward a global transition to a greener, more sustainable economy, but their commitments to climate action may be more talk than walk. The Canada Pension Plan has increased its shares in fossil fuel companies since Canada signed the Paris Agreement in 2016. The investment patterns of the fund do not reflect the urgent action needed to address the scale of the climate crisis. In this talk, we’ll discuss how we went about tracking the investment history of the CPP and also how we researched connections that the CPP maintains with the fossil fuel industry through interlocking directorates, which may be a factor in why the fund remains invested in fossil fuel companies while other large funds are pursuing a divestment strategy.

Emily Eaton
Fossil Capital In Your Backyard: Accessing the stories of influence in your communities

Abstract: As part of the Corporate Mapping Project my research involved three different types of studies with a variety of different research methods including: in-depth interviewing, focus groups, content analysis of newspapers and teaching materials, and an access to information request. Each came with its own hurdles and provided a different window into the power and influence of fossil fuels in Saskatchewan communities. In this talk I'll discuss how accessing data and interview participants was shaped by the fossil fuel industry's hegemony in public life.

About the speakers

William K. Carroll’s research interests are in the political economy/ecology of corporate capitalism, social movements and social change, and critical social theory and method. Since 2015 he has co-directed The Corporate Mapping Project, an interdisciplinary initiative bringing scholars and activists together in research and knowledge mobilization on the power and influence of fossil capital in Canada. A member of the Sociology Department at the University of Victoria since 1981, and founding Director of UVic’s interdisciplinary program in Social Justice Studies, Dr. Carroll’s books include Regime of Obstruction: How Corporate Power Blocks Energy Democracy, available for free download here.

Jessica Dempsey is an associate professor at the University of British Columbia in the Department of Geography. In her research she focuses on trying to understand how biodiversity loss continues despite the proliferation of international, national and regional conservation laws, policies and advocacy efforts.

James Rowe is an associate professor at the University of Victoria in the School of Environmental Studies. His research is focused on improving the internal function of social movements so they can better overcome external constraints such as the concentrated economic power of elites, and more effectively address pressing challenges such as climate change, white supremacy and heterosexism. He is currently completing a book called Radical Mindfulness: Death Denial, Existential Resentment and the Will to Supremacy, examining the transformative potential of mind/body practices within the context of social movements.

Emily Eaton is a white settler doing community-based research, teaching and service devoted to addressing the climate and inequality crises at local and national scales. Central to this work is understanding the power and influence of the fossil fuel industries and mapping pathways to climate action that prioritize the needs of marginalized communities and that rectify the unjust colonial relationship that Canada has with Indigenous Peoples.

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