British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Geography of Absence: Identity and Alienation on the Canadian Prairies

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2008), 21, (1), 89–104.

Abstract

The austere, geometrical openness of the Canadian prairies has frequently prompted indifferent or even hostile responses from visitors and settlers alike. The sense of estrangement that resulted from encounters between the European consciousness and the prairie landscape can be traced to aspects of European philosophy, and to historical and social circumstances that obtained in Canada during the settlement period. This article will trace these alienating trends through an analysis of historical, geographical and literary sources. It will touch on the dislocating effect of nationalist myths and abstractions, and it will explore in greater detail the alienating effects of industrial and mechanistic forces, and the tendency to view the prairie region as existing outside of historical forces.

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Author details

O'Hagan, Rory