Stories are important vehicles for social knowledge, as they're used to construct and transmit perceptions of the world around us. They are powerful imaginative resources that help to explain or negotiate conflict in the contexts of colonialism, war, immigration, labour strife, natural disaster, treaty making, and globalization. As such, they allow us to engage with different understandings of human difference.In Imagining Difference, Leslie Robertson turns to a popular local legend to explore the social construction of difference through ideas of "race," "foreignness," and regional, class, and religious identity, as expressed by residents of Fernie, British Columbia, a coal mining town on its way to becoming an international ski resort. The legend revolves around a curse cast on the valley by indigenous people in the nineteenth century. Successive interpretations of the story reveal a complicated landscape of memory and silence, mapping official and contested histories, social and scientific theories, as well as the edicts of political discourse. Cursing becomes a metaphor for the discursive power that resonates in political, popular, and cultural contexts, transmitting ideas of difference across generations and geographies. Paying close attention to public performances, mass media, and processes of place-making, Robertson examines forms of social knowledge circulating within local settings, which shape shared understandings and common-sense views of the world. While situated historically and socially in Fernie, this ethnographic study offers significant insights into the cultural foundations of rural communities generally. It shows how people summon imagery from diverse European traditions and personal histories to weave complex webs of representation.