ICHT Bulletin 2016-2 | Canada’s Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve as Economic Development and Colonial Placemaking

“In the Name of Profit” (ICHT Bulletin 2016-1) (PDF) deconstructs the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve/Region (MABR), a UNESCO biosphere reserve located on the populated east coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. From a critical heritage perspective, MABR is seen as late modern colonialism and placemaking.

Abstract

Taking a critical heritage approach to naming and placemaking in contemporary Canada, we discuss how the power to name reflects the power to control people, their land, their past, and ultimately their future. Our case study is the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Reserve (MABR), a recently invented place on Vancouver Island, southwest British Columbia. Through analysis of representations and landscape, we explore MABR as state-sanctioned branding, where a dehumanized nature is packaged for and marketed to wealthy ecotourists. Greenwashed by a feel-good “sustainability” discourse, MABR constitutes colonial placemaking and economic development, representing no break with past practices.

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