Modernism between Preservation and Progress: Van Ginkel Associates Go North

Jordan B. Kinder
Seminar, in English, Study Room, 3 August 2023, 6pm to 7:30pm

In this seminar, Jordan B. Kinder looks back on a watershed moment in Canadian infrastructural history where settler and Indigenous infrastructuralisms publicly collided: the unbuilt Mackenzie Valley Pipeline. Proposed in the 1970s, this natural gas pipeline would establish two energy corridors in the North as its route would bestow upon it the title of the longest pipeline in history. After a federal inquiry recommended that the pipeline be delayed for ten years to resolve Indigenous land claims on the one hand and reroute its path to avoid a caribou migration path in northern Yukon on the other, the pipeline was never realized.

This seminar comes out of an ongoing project that focuses on the forgotten contribution of the then Montréal-based architecture, planning, and design firm Van Ginkel Associates who were under contract by the oil and gas consortium proposing one of the pipeline routes to do socio-economic and socio-ecological impact assessments, aerial mapping, settlement design, and more. In this project, Kinder explores how such infrastructural worldbuilding necessitated the demolition of Indigenous economies and infrastructures. For this talk in particular, Kinder will zoom in on the van Ginkels’ architectural modernism, showing how commitments to a particular kind of modernism linked to their involvement with Team X and underwritten by impulses of preservation and progress shaped the work the firm did for the oil and gas consortium, Canadian Arctic Gas Pipeline Limited.

Jordan B. Kinder is a scholar of media studies and environmental humanities from a resource town of what is now called northern British Columbia, Canada. He is a citizen of the Métis Nation of Alberta, and is currently an assistant professor in the Departments of Communications Studies and Cultural Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. For the 2023–2024 academic year, he is also a research associate with the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University.


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