Edited by Raymond L. Bryant
Chapter 13: Resources, wars and violence
Perspectives on war and natural resources have been mostly environmentally deterministic, being either associated with scarcity-induced conflicts or greed-driven plunders. Rather than such universalizing narratives of ‘resource wars’, political ecology perspectives bring sensitivity to local historical and socio-ecological contexts, and their connection to broader processes of environmental transformations, colonization and capital accumulation. Concerned with multiple forms of violence associated with resource control and access, political ecology brings greater attention to distinctive ontologies, uneven power relations, a critical reading of historical contingencies and regimes of accumulation, a grounded analysis of the various actors, and multi-scalar analysis of spatially differentiated and complex socio-ecological processes. Engaging relations between resources, violence and war through political ecology also offers a way to move away from ‘securitization’––the reconfiguration of issues through a narrow and often violent and historical oppressive security lens––towards ‘worldization’, whereby the recognition of distinct ontologies, values and desires is privileged over the mobilization of security narratives and the institutional imperative of self-righteous intervention. As such, political ecology approaches provide the requisite breadth and nuance to understand the many forms of violence occurring as a result of unequal power relations. It also helps to explain violent landscapes of resource extraction, livelihood dispossession and cultural assimilation, while broadening horizons to diverse cosmologies and allowing for new understandings and solidarities.
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