Fall 2023 - GEOG 423 D100

Capitalist Natures (4)

Class Number: 3639

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Oct 6, 2023: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Oct 11 – Dec 5, 2023: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Rosemary Collard
    Office: RCB 7224
    Office Hours: (tentative): Tuesday & Wednesday 11-noon
  • Prerequisites:

    GEOG 321 or GEOG 389W.



An exploration of our political, social, and economic systems, their ecological limitations, and related questions of inequality. It explores the histories, dynamics, logics, effects, and limitations of these systems. The evolution and effects of capitalism, specifically with respect to nonhuman natures, will be a focus.


This course digs into the politics and production of capitalist natures: the forms and functions that nonhuman nature takes within capitalist social relations. By necessity, this also involves investigating colonial natures, racial capitalism, and capitalist structures like private property, the modern state, and law. What kinds of natures have these structures produced historically and in the present, and through what logics and processes? Are these structures inclined towards ecological emaciation? Who benefits from these changed ecologies and who bears the costs? Are there patterns along lines of race, class, gender, species and other socially constructed axes of difference?

To explore these questions, this year’s course focuses on extraction and the state. We empirically study the state’s role in extractive regimes globally and in a local context, specifically Treaty 8 territory in northeast BC, a hotspot of extractive development. We will engage in in-depth readings and seminar discussion of key texts that analytically help us explain why the state performs this role. These readings will also shed light on the relationship between abstracted difference (along lines of race, gender, species), political economic structures like capitalism and colonialism, and the more-than-human, or what Okanagan scholar Jeannette Armstrong calls “the world beyond the skin.”


  • Final project (including proposal and informal presentation) 50%
  • One author intro + activity 10%
  • Weekly Qs and in-class reading reflections 20%
  • Capitalist natures in-action - news item or photo + caption: 20%


Evaluation (tentative)

Grading scale
A+ 90-100
A 85-89
A- 80-84
B+ 76-79
B 72-75
B- 68-71
C+ 64-67
C 60-63
C- 55-59
D 50-54
F 0-49



No required course textbooks


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.