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Art Film & Video

Tar Wars

Oil, Environment and Alberta's Image

by (author) Geo Takach

The University of Alberta Press
Initial publish date
Jan 2017
Film & Video, Environmental Conservation & Protection, Public Relations
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Feb 2017
    List Price

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Tar Wars offers a critical inside look at how leading image-makers negotiate escalating tensions between continuous economic growth mandated by a globalized economic system and its unsustainable environmental costs. As place branding assumes paramount importance in an increasingly global, visual, and ecologically conscious society, an international battle unfolds over Alberta’s bituminous sands. This battle pits independent documentary filmmakers against professional communicators employed by government and the oil industry. Tar Wars engages scholars and students in communications, film, environmental studies, social psychology, PR, media and cultural studies, and petrocultures. This book also speaks to decision makers, activists, and citizens exploring intersections of energy, environment, culture, politics, economy, media and power.

About the author

Geo Takach is a prolific and consummate writer, instructor, speaker, and filmmaker based in Wild Rose Country. His passion for, and his unbridled fascination and frustration with, Alberta has driven his work to define the soul of a province grandly mythologized and misunderstood. He has suffered for his art, and now he would like it to be your turn.

Geo Takach's profile page


  • Winner, AAUP Book, Jacket & Journal Show, Book – Scholarly Typographic

Editorial Reviews

"In his extensively researched and politically provocative new book, Tar Wars, award-winning author Geo Takach...offers attentive citizens, policy wonks and communications pros a solid 'case study in environmental communication.'"

Alberta Views

"Alberta for generations was famous for mountains, rodeos, Mormonism, football, Ukrainian culture, meatpacking and Social Credit. Say 'Alberta' today and any focus group replies, 'oil'. That’s no accident, writes Prof. Geo Takach of Royal Roads University. From the 1947 oil strike at Leduc Number One, 'resource extraction became heroic'. Alberta’s very identity was intertwined with oil sands production, for better and worse. Tar Wars documents this modern cultural phenomenon... [and] ... covers all angles. … The search is compelling and clever."

Blacklock's Reporter

"This book is relevant to scholars in communication studies, specifically those with a focus on environmental communication and activism, as well as those in strategic communication, specifically PR, marketing, and branding, and obviously those in the fields of journalism and film." [Full review at]

Canadian Journal of Communication Vol 44

"... [Takach's] purpose: to depolarize and ultimately enable debate of the bit-sands and their role in defining Alberta... Tar Wars highlights two points that are seldom part of the discussion. The first is that while the antagonistic 'Alberta is energy' approach originated with industry and political leaders, the polarizing rhetoric does not represent the views of all or even the majority of Alberta residents. The second is that polarized debate limits meaningful dialogue and political engagement... Underlying is Takach’s message that we must refuse to fall into easy stereotypes of any region, including the one we live in." [Full review at]

BC BookLook

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