The Corporate Mapping Project was a seven-year program of critical knowledge production and mobilization, co-directed by Shannon Daub (of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-BC) and me. The partnership was founded in a shared commitment to advancing reliable knowledge that supports citizen action and transparent public policy, toward a just transition away from fossil capitalism.

Our work focused around four big questions:

  • How is corporate power organized in and around the fossil-fuel sector?
  • How does that power reach into political and cultural life?
  • How is corporate power wielded (and resisted) at ground level, from carbon extraction and transport right through to final consumption?
  • How can we build capacity for citizen monitoring of corporate power and influence, while expanding the space for democratic discussion?

These four questions animated four research streams, which we rolled out in a staggered way.  These streams were complemented by extensive knowledge-mobilization initiatives, including Summer Institutes, conferences focusing on activist strategy, and our website, on which our publications are freely available.

Although we published in scholarly journals, CMP was a venture in action research, and public sociology. Our community advisors brought to the table extensive knowledge from years of grassroots activism around Indigenous, ecological, labour and other justice issues. Our initiatives were balanced between inquiry and knowledge mobilization, with the latter framed as public sociology: socio-political analysis in dialogue with publics, in ways that inform and empower.

Stream 1 mapped the social and economic organization of fossil capital, and how it is embedded in larger formations of corporate power, nationally and transnationally. Stream 2 investigated the reach of corporate influence into civil and political society – both structurally (2a) and discursively (2b). Stream 3 mapped commodity chains along which carbon is extracted, processed and consumed, and the flashpoints at which contention becomes visible. Stream 4 saw creation of an online database– an interactive tool that activists, journalists, social scientists and concerned citizens can use in creating their own maps of corporate power in and around Canada’s carbon-extractive sector.

In 2018 we added two further research streams, one devoted to the efforts of investigative journalists, the other attuned to Indigenous issues around fossil capitalism, resistance and alternatives.

Regime of Obstruction: How Corporate Power Blocks Energy Democracy, an edited collection of studies from the Corporate Mapping Project, was published in April 2021 by AU Press. It is an open-access book, freely available as a pdf online. The weblink is here.