Uneven Development, Crypto-regionalism, and the (Un-)tethering of Nature in Quebec

Atkins, Ed and Follis, Luca and Neimark, Benjamin and Thomas, Vanessa (2020) Uneven Development, Crypto-regionalism, and the (Un-)tethering of Nature in Quebec. Geoforum. ISSN 0016-7185 (In Press)

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Since emerging in 2009, cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, have captured the imaginations of many investors and users in accumulating private wealth detached from government control and oversight. This article examines how the rise of bitcoin has particular geographies and trajectories of uneven development across the globe. The generation (or mining ) of cryptocurrencies is computationally-intensive, requiring computer hardware, cool air and cheap energy. Adopting the case study of Quebec, Canada, we show how these variables interact to produce a relationship between digital currencies, economic imaginaries and space in the regions where cryptomining is clustered. We argue that these new geographies of cryptocurrency mining leave residual marks on the regions where they are located but remain highly mobile moving from location to location in search of the cheap energy that supports private accumulation. Adopting an illustrative case study of Quebec, Canada, we work to render visible the materiality of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. Far from existing both nowhere and everywhere, the generation of bitcoin is foregrounded in local contexts and regional economic imaginaries with both spatial and social implications for the cities and towns where cryptomining takes place. We conclude with a call for further research into this emergent crypto-regionalism and its consequences.

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01 Feb 2021 16:30
In Press
Last Modified:
08 Apr 2021 05:40