Resource triumphalism: Postindustrial narratives of primary commodity production

Gavin Bridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is now commonplace to assert that the contemporary discursive landscape is strewn with an abundance of environmental narratives. Yet these stories about nature seldom speak of the material geographies that link practices of postindustrial consumption to often-distant spaces of commodity supply. A postscarcity narrative in which the availability of natural resources no longer poses a limiting factor on economic growth, therefore, characterizes the current period. In this paper I examine how these narratives of 'resource triumphalism' construct the nature of commodities and the places that supply them. Using a range of sources, I illustrate how extractive spaces are constructed through a discursive dialectic which simultaneously erases socioecological histories and reinscribes space in the image of the commodity. The paper advances the claim that, despite their apparent marginality in narratives of postindustrialism, primary commodity-supply zones play a key role within broader narratives about modernity and social life. I draw on Hetherington's reworking of the concept of heterotopia to argue that commodity-supply zones be considered contemporary 'badlands', marginal spaces in and through which broader processes of sociospatial ordering are worked out. By examining the geographical imaginaries associated with mineral extraction, I demonstrate how contemporary discourses of commodity-supply space facilitate the material practices through which such ordering occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2149-2173
Number of pages24
JournalEnvironment and Planning A
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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