Alexander Dunlap: The Politics of Ecocide, Genocide and Megaprojects: Interrogating Natural Resource Extraction, Identity and the Normalization of Erasure
Published in Journal of Genocide Research, 2020.
At the root of techno-capitalist development – popularly marketed as “modernity,” “progress” or “development” – is the continuous and systematic processes of natural resource extraction. Reviewing wind energy development in Mexico, coal mining in Germany and copper mining in Peru, this article seeks to strengthen the post-liberal or structural approach in genocide studies. These geographically and culturally diverse case studies set the stage for discussions about the complications of conflictual fault lines around extractive development. The central argument is that “green” and conventional natural resource extraction are significant in degrading human and biological diversity, thereby contributing to larger trends of socio-ecological destruction, extinction and the potential for human and nonhuman extermination. It should be acknowledged in the above-mentioned case studies, land control was largely executed through force, notably through “hard” coercive technologies executed by various state and extra-judicial elements, which was complemented by employing diplomatic and “soft” social technologies of pacification. Natural resource extraction is a significant contributor to the genocide-ecocide nexus, leading to three relevant discussion points. First, the need to include nonhuman natures, as well as indigenous ontologies and epistemologies, into genocide studies to dispel an embedded anthropocentrism in the discipline. Second, acknowledges the complications of essentializing identity and the specific socio-cultural values and dispositions that are the targets of techno-capitalist development. Third, that socio-political positionality is essential to how people will relate and identify ecocidal and genocidal processes. Different ontologies, socio-ecological relationships (linked to “the Other”), and radical anti-capitalism are the root targets of techno-capitalist progress, as they seek assimilation and absorption of human and nonhuman “natural resources” into extractive economies. Genocide studies and political ecology – Anthropology, Human Geography and Development Studies – would benefit from greater engagement with each other to highlight the centrality of extractive development in sustaining ecological and climate catastrophe confronting the world today.