Dr. Bruce Erickson

Assistant Professor
315 Sinnott Building
University of Manitoba
R3T 2N2
(204) 474-6991

Academic Background

Phd, Environmental Studies, York University
M.A. Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta
BHOR, Outdoor Recreation, Parks and Tourism, Lakehead University 

Teaching Interests

Geography of Culture and Environment
Geography of Culture and Inequality 

My work examines the cultural politics of outdoor recreation, asking how the spheres of leisure and recreation form an integral part of our interactions with the social and physical world.  Drawing from cultural geography, political ecology, environmental history, psychoanalysis, leisure studies and critical theory, I aim to highlight how recreational activities are a useful starting place for understanding our relationship to nature, including the consequences our ideas about what counts as nature (and how we should protect and use nature) has on the world around use.  Recreation is also important because it has become central to how we express our identity, and leisure spending is a major driver of the economy.  Over the past few years I have examined how the canoe became a Canadian national icon, tracing its path from indigenous vehicle to settler leisure activity and to national symbol.  In this transformation, we can see many of the broader dynamics of Canadian colonialism - most specifically, the attempt to use indigenous crafts to claim belonging on settled land.  My work shows how the rise of the canoe as a Canadian symbol was not inevitable or natural, but a result of a settler society attempting to overcome the dilemma of living on colonized land in a rapidly industrializing world.  Thus, the canoe's closeness to both nature and “native” has been seen as the symbol of a nation that is more than slightly anxious about both its colonial and industrial circumstances.

More recently, I am interested in the relationship between tourism, climate change and neoliberalism.  This project looks to create a history of northern tourism in light of both the increasing effects of climate change in Northern Canada as well as the development of neoliberal, market-based economic solutions for northern communities.  With a specific focus on Polar Bear tourism (as one of the first animals to be considered endangered due to climate change), I am investigating the rise of market-based environmentalism that use consumption practices (like ecotourism) for potential environmental benefits (like protecting polar bears).   

Research Interests

The cultural politics of outdoor recreation
Neoliberalism, nature and environmental activism
Canadian identity, space and colonialism
Critical geographies of risk and nature
Gender, Race and Sexuality and nature

Recent Publications

Canoe Nation: Nature, Race and the Making of a Canadian Icon. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2013.

““A Phantasy in White in a World that is Dead”: Grey Owl and the Whiteness of Surrogacy” in Laura Cameron, Audrey Kobayashi and Andrew Baldwin, Rethinking the Great White North: Race, Nature and the Historical Geographies of Whiteness in Canada, Vancouver: UBC. (2011)

“Recreational Activism: Nature, Politics and the Rise of Neoliberalism,” Leisure Studies, 30(4), 477-494. (2011).

Queer Ecologies: Sex, Nature, Politics, Desire. (edited with Catriona Mortimer-Sandilands) Bloomington: University of Indiana Press. (2010)