Violence and the environment: resources, conflicts, resistance

Violence and the environment: resources, conflicts, resistance

 Instructors: M. Armiero, S. Barca, J. Reid, R. Serra

The workshop is intended to offer a broad overview of research themes related to different forms of violence in political ecology. It will crisscross two analytical levels: 1) 'green' politics as a new form of securitization and exclusion; 2) development projects as forms of 'accumulation through contamination' and ecocide. First, the discourse and politics of 'sustainability' will be shown in its being used as a pretext to put forward oppressive forms of control over people and territories. Migrants and refugees are accused of all sorts of environmental crimes and targeted as a threat to natural resources.

Land-based, indigenous and traditional populations are forcibly evicted to make space for environmental protection, biofuels and forest plantations linked to the carbon trade market. Legitimate protests against the location of waste disposal facilities, wind parks and the like are harshly repressed as NIMBY and their voice silenced. Overall, turning the economy more ecologically sustainable might turn into a dangerous trade-off with the safety and livelihoods of the poor, minority groups, or marginal communities. Second, development politics will be addressed as they continue to be pursued in poor countries with a devastating impact on local ecosystems and the livelihoods of those who depend on them. 

The term 'ecocide' has been coined to describe this phenomenon in terms of serious violation of human and environmental rights: big dams, oil refinery, uranium mining and all sorts of infrastructural megaprojects plague multitudes of disenfranchised people, typically (but not only) in the global South, by irreversibly contaminating their ecosystems and bodies. Eco-mafias, corporations and governments together target poor areas for illegally dumping toxic and radioactive waste, often the result of cleaning-up operations in distant areas.

Overall, despite decades long environmental and human rights critiques, the politics of development is alive and well in its destruction capacity, and continues to make victims among local communities, environmental activists and ecosystems. The two analytical levels will be addressed through four individual lectures, each featuring an oral presentation and the discussion of 1-2 reading assignments. In the end, audio-visual materials (film documentaries and media sources) will be shown and discussed with the participants.

  • Julian Reid : The violence of sustainability. Waging war on the human

  • M. Armiero: Right to resist. Oppression, repression and resistance in violent environments Part 1

  • M. Armiero: Right to resist. Oppression, repression and resistance in violent environments Part 2

  • Rita Serra: Playing with fire. A political ecology of risk in the Portuguese forests

  • Stefania Barca:‘Brute force’ or ‘slow violence’? The unsustainable politics of development Part 1