Mountain Equipment Co-op, “diversity work,” and the ‘inclusive’ politics of erasure

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"Mountain Equipment Co-op, “diversity work,” and the ‘inclusive’ politics of erasure" by
Dr. Jason Laurendeau, Tiffany Higham, Danielle Peers

The Canadian outdoor retailer Mountain Equipment Co-operative (MEC) has been capitalizing on adventures and the outdoors since 1971. Through advertisements, social media, and ambassadors, the company produces a specific brand that extends beyond material goods to valorize a particular (outdoorsy) way of life, and to produce related subjectivities. Moreover, MEC discourse normalizes certain relationships to outdoor places, and constructs a narrow range of bodies to be ‘at home’ in the wilderness, all the while ignoring who has been displaced and dispossessed in the construction of “wild” spaces. In October of 2018, MEC publicly acknowledged its complicity in (some of) these processes, conceding that its own representational practices were “part of the problem.” Through this paper we engage in an intersectional interrogation of MEC’s representational practices, analyzing how MEC’s initial foray into making race (and to some degree racist underrepresentations) visible simultaneously effaces the highly gendered, ableist, fatphobic, settler colonial and racist structuring of ‘the outdoors’ both in MEC’s practices and in ‘Canada’ more broadly. Our analysis highlights that despite MEC’s diversity work, their representational practices continue to produce a narrow range of bodies appropriate to the wilderness. Moreover, we interrogate MEC’s silence around questions of land dispossession, highlighting their participation in ongoing settler colonial violence.

Date: Friday, February 7, 2020
Time 1 p.m.
Room M1035 (Markin Hall)

Everyone is welcome!  

Room or Area: 


Jenny Oseen | | (403) 329-2551