Alexander Zahara


Office: Chat Lab, CS Portable 1017
Telephone: (709) 864-2966
Fax: (709) 864- 3119


Dr. Arn Keeling (Memorial)
Dr. Lianne Leddy (Laurier Brantford)

Committee Members:

Dr. Max Liboiron (Geography)
Dr. Nicole Power (Sociology)

Previous Education:

Master's of Environmental Studies, Queen's University (2015)
Bachelor of Science in Biology (Hons), University of Saskatchewan (2012)

Research Interests:
Feminist Science and Technology Studies
Discard Studies
Settler Colonial Studies & Indigenous Studies
Action-Oriented Research

Title of Project:

Settler Fire Management: An Examination into Wildfire Policy, Settler-Indigenous Relations, and Research Ethics in Northern Saskatchewan.

Project Description:

Over the last several decades, wildfire management in Northern Canada has become an important and controversial issue. The severity of wildfires has increased throughout Boreal Forest regions of Saskatchewan (SK), due to a combination of climate change, historical wildfire management regimes, and contemporary practices. In Northern SK, wildfires directly impact the lives of the region’s primarily Indigenous (Dene, Métis, Rocky Cree, Swampy Cree, and Woodland Cree) residents, through moves that take them from their land. Forced evacuations are one example of this, and many Indigenous Northerners have compared the process to forced removals of children in residential schools. Evacuations aren't common in international wildfire management practices, suggesting there is a unique Canadian history of evacuations, possibly stemming from legacies of government relations with Indigenous people. Other modes of dispossession have to do with cuts to the ways Indigenous Northerners are able to engage in wildfire management on their own terms.

This research is an ethical and methodological commitment to answering the questions provided by Northern Saskatchewan residents. These questions include:
• What is the history of evacuation practices in Northern Saskatchewan? What alternatives to evacuation exist in other fire effected areas?
• What is the history of the Province's unofficial 'Let it Burn' policy, wherein fires are allowed to burn until they are near communities? How does this relate to scientific knowledge about fires? How were Northerners considered or consulted in the process?
• How has the Provincial government justified the replacement of Indigenous workers with webcams or non-Northern fire fighters? When and why were these programs (i.e. Northern fire-spotters and volunteer fire fighters) implemented and refuted?

The aims of this project are to: (1) Provide Northern Saskatchewan community groups and lobbying organizations answers to these questions in formats and in language that is useful to them; (2) to better understand and develop methods and methodologies to conduct ethical research for Northern communities impacted by contamination issues; and (3) to be able to articulate the role of wildfire management in configuring settler-Indigenous relationships near my home community in Northern Saskatchewan.


  • Zahara, A. (Forthcoming). ‘Taima: Risk Governance in an Arctic Dump fire’ in Sarathy, B., Hamilton, V. and Brodie, J. (eds.) Contested Expertise and Toxic Environments. University of Pittsburg Press.
  • Liboiron, M., Ammendolia, J., Winsor, K., Zahara, A., Bradshaw, H., Melvin, J., Mather, C., Dawe, N., Wells, E., Liboiron, F., Fürst, B., Coyle, C., Saturno, J., Novacefski, M., Westscott, S., & Liboiron, G. ‘Equity in Author Order: A Feminist Laboratory’s Approach.’ Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience 3: 1-17.
  • Hird, M. & Zahara, A. ‘The Arctic Wastes’ (2017) in Grusin, R. (ed) Anthropocene Feminism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Liboiron, M., Liboiron F., Wells, E. Richard, N., Zahara, A., Mather, C., Bradshaw, H. & Muchiri, J. (2016) ‘Low rate of plastic ingestion in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) from Newfoundland destined for human consumption collected through citizen science methods.’ Marine Pollution Bulletin 113: 428-437.
  • Zahara, A.., & Hird, M.. (2015). ‘Raven, Dog, Human: Inhuman Colonialism and Unsettling Cosmologies.’ Environmental Humanities 7: 169-190.
  • Zahara, A.., Michel, N., Flahr, L., Ejack, L., & Morrissey, C.. (2015) ‘Latent cognitive effects from low-level PCB exposure in juvenile European starlings, Sturnus vulgaris.’ Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry 34 (11): 2513-2522.
  • Flahr, L., Michel, N., Zahara, A., Jones, P., & Morrissey, C. (2015). Developmental exposure to Aroclor 1254 alters migratory behaviour in juvenile European starlings (Sturnus vulgaris). Environmental Science and Technology 49 (10): 6274-6283.

Public Writing:

  • Zahara, A. ‘Plastics and Methylmercury’ Civic Lab for Environmental Action Research Blog. 15 July 2017.
  • Zahara, A. ‘Difference in the Anthropocene: Indigenous Environmentalism in the Face of Settler Colonialism’. Discard Studies Blog. 14 March 2017.
  • Zahara, A. ‘Fostering Dialogue: Bringing Together Perspectives on Industry’s Social Licence to Operate.’ Memorial University Gazette. 6 October 2016.
  • Zahara, A. ‘Ethnographic Refusal: A How to Guide’. Discard Studies Blog. 8 August 2016.
  • Peterson, J. and Zahara, A. ‘Anthropocene Adjustments: Discarding the Technosphere.’ Discard Studies Blog & HKW Anthropocene: Technosphere Issue. 26 May 2016.
  • Zahara, A. ‘Refusal as Research Method in Discard Studies.’ Discard Studies Blog. 21 March 2016.
  • Zahara, A. ‘Bringing Waste to Public Spaces: A Discussion with Artist Keeley Haftner.’ Discard Studies Blog. 14 July 2014.


Society for History of Technology Fellow (2017)
Dr. Alan MacPherson Award in Historical and Cultural Geography (2016)
Memorial University Dean’s Excellence Award (2016-2018)
SSHRC J.A. Bombardier Doctoral Award (CGS-D, 2016-2018)
Queen’s Environmental Studies Graduate Scholarship (Sept 2014)
SSHRC J. A. Bombardier Master’s Award (CGS-M 2014-2015)

Research Groups:
Northern Exposures:
Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research:
Queer Science Reading Group:
Waste, Science Technology & Environment:


Department of Geography

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000