Set for Life: Registers of Responsibility in Canada’s Diamond Basin
Lindsay A. Bell, Postdoctoral Scholar, Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto, and Christopher Smeall Fellow, SAR
Colloquium, SAR Boardroom
Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 12:00–1:00 pm, Free
“Set for life” is an ethnographic account of the promotion and delivery of an aboriginal employment training program that straddled the boom and bust of Canadian Arctic diamonds (2007–2009). This presentation tracks how industry training programs attempt to socialize aboriginal residents into specific resource temporalities and the multiple ways in which trainees embrace, reject, and reconfigure them in light of their own circumstances, histories, and desired futures. Particular attention is paid to the role of “soft skills” in preparing would-be workers for the job market. With only one of ninety students placed in a high-paying job at the program’s completion, Bell shows how moralizing dimensions of classroom text and talk serve as “registers of responsibility,” which remap structural instabilities of resource development onto individuals’ future aspirations.