“The War in the Woods”: Post-Fordist Restructuring, Globalization, and the Contested Remapping of British Columbia's Forest Economy


Department of Geography, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC Canada V5A 1S6; e-mail: hayter@sfu.edu


Resource peripheries that are geographically remote from “core economies” are also peripheral to contemporary theorizing in economic geography, and requires higher profile within economic geography's research agenda. The restructuring qua remapping of resource peripheries is collectively shaped by institutional forces unleashed by post-Fordism and globalization that are fundamentally different from the restructuring of cores. As industrial regions, resource peripheries must negotiate the imperatives of flexibility and neoliberalism from vulnerable, dependent positions on geographic margins. For many resource peripheries, neoliberalism has been perversely associated with trade protectionism. As resource regions, the restructuring of resource peripheries has been further complicated by resource-cycle dynamics and radically new social attitudes toward the exploitation of resources that have helped spawn the politics of environmentalism and aboriginalism. Trade, environmental, and aboriginal politics have clashed around the world to contest vested industrial interests and remap resource peripheries in terms of their value systems. British Columbia's forest economy illustrates this contested remapping. For two decades, the powerful forces of neoliberalism, environmentalism, and aboriginalism have institutionalized a “war in the woods” of British Columbia that is sustained by shared criticism of provincial policy and disagreement over how remapping should proceed. The authority of the provincial government, which controls British Columbia's forests, has been undermined, but it remains vital to socially acceptable remapping. Meanwhile, the enduring war in the woods testifies that geography matters on the periphery.