Although the concept of place has most often been used to examine micro-scale locales, recent explications of place-making and place-framing can usefully inform debates on nations, nationalism, and the nation-state. Viewing the nation as a contested, unstable, and relational place enables a pluralist and dynamic understanding of how nation-places are constructed and contested, by whom, and towards what ends. In this paper, we examine public debates over the extraction of the Canadian tar sands as an illustrative example of how place is negotiated, deployed, and contested to legitimize particular outcomes. We analyzed 50 articles from one of Canada's most widely circulated daily newspapers, The Globe and Mail. We found diverging place-frames of Canada used by government, industry, Indigenous groups, environmentalists, and other stakeholders as they make cases for and against the development of the tar sands. Framings of Canada promoted by the government and industry—Canada as a modern, rational, and legitimate actor—featured most prominently in the sample. Importantly, however, counter-frames trouble narratives of Canada's inherent benevolent and responsible nature, and offer a small, yet strong opposition to hegemonic national imaginaries.
- tar sands