The International Handbook of Political Ecology
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The International Handbook of Political Ecology

Edited by Raymond L. Bryant

The International Handbook features chapters by leading scholars from around the world in a unique collection exploring the multi-disciplinary field of political ecology. This landmark volume canvasses key developments, topics, issues, debates and concepts showcasing how political ecologists today address pressing social and environmental concerns. Introductory chapters provide an overview of political ecology and the Handbook. Remaining chapters examine five broad themes: issues and approaches; governance and power; knowledge and discourse; method and scale; connections and transformations. Across diverse topics and perspectives, these chapters amount to a wide-ranging survey of current research, making the International Handbook an indispensable reference for scholars and students in political ecology.
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Chapter 13: Resources, wars and violence

Philippe Le Billon


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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