Darin Barney is Canada Research Chair in Technology & Citizenship, and Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Communication Studies at McGill University. He is the author of Communication Technology: The Canadian Democratic Audit (UBC Press: 2005); The Network Society (Polity Press: 2004; second printing 2006); and Prometheus Wired: The Hope for Democracy in the Age of Network Technology (UBC/Chicago/UNSW 2000). His current work focuses on the politics of resource infrastructure in rural Canada, including projects on the transformation of grain-handling technology on the Canadian prairies and the politics of petroleum and gas pipelines in the Pacific Northwest.


Sabotage and the politics of pipelines

Abstract: In recent years, petrochemical pipelines have emerged as high-profile sites of political organization and contestation. The Keystone XL, the Enbridge Northern Gateway, the Kinder Morgan Trans-Mountain twinning project­– pipelines have become political. Like all technologies, pipelines emerge from a vast and complex network of interests, institutions, agencies, parties, publics, processes, relationships, histories, discourses, interactions and power. Pipeline developments sponsor a diverse array of forms of political judgment and action –ranging from regulatory intervention to direct action to artistic intervention– enacted by equally diverse and sometime unlikely networks of actors and constituencies employing a variety of strategies and tactics across multiple state and non-state venues. In this talk I explore the potential pipeline developments present for a particular kind of politics –the politics of sabotage– wherein disruption of critical infrastructure is leveraged to open political possibilities that might otherwise appear to be closed.