The Neoliberal Tourist

Affect, Policy and Economy in the Canadian North


  • Bruce Erickson Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg


Neoliberalism, Canadian Arctic, Stephen Harper, affective economy, tourism


Throughout his tenure as Prime Minster of Canada (2006-2015), Stephen Harper had a particular fascination with the Canadian North, illustrated in part by his annual tours of the Canadian Arctic and Subarctic region. Using these tours as a case study, this paper argues that state discourses of sovereignty, resource development, and climate change are intertwined with the simultaneous production of a tourist landscape. This tourist landscape is established in part through the circulation of affect within state discourses, like those engaged by Harper on his northern tours. The affective economies of tourism in the Canadian Arctic are heavily intertwined with both market-focused policy objectives and the moral imperative established by climate change. The result is a discourse of northern Canada that puts it within the purview of southern Canada. In particular, the affective, economic, and ecological dynamics in northern Canada produce an image of the North as both a playground for southern desires and a place in danger that is in need of saving. This moral economy in the North proposes market-based solutions and ethics for both economic and environmental problems.


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How to Cite

Erickson, B. (2020). The Neoliberal Tourist: Affect, Policy and Economy in the Canadian North. ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 20(1), 58–80. Retrieved from