AAG 2019 CFP- Threat Multipliers and Coalition Politics: Understanding and Resisting the Intersections of Militarism, War, Imperialism and Environmental Degradation

AAG 2019 CFP- Threat Multipliers and Coalition Politics: Understanding and Resisting the Intersections of Militarism, War, Imperialism and Environmental Degradation

Organizers: Patrick Bigger (Lancaster University), Emily Gilbert (University of Toronto) & Benjamin Neimark (Lancaster University)


As the aphorism goes, the primary job of the US military is to ‘break things and kill people.’ This is a job at which it excels, not only in its most visible expressions of occupation, counter-insurgency, drone strikes, or expeditionary missions, but also through these operations’ degradation of environments and the atmosphere. In recent years, the US military has moved to account for actual and potential threat multipliers brought on by climate change (Gilbert 2012). It anticipates being called out even more frequently to intervene in conflicts and humanitarian disasters across the globe, projecting and precipitating a dystopian future where unchecked emissions lead to widespread socioecological disruption, large-scale migration, and resource wars (Dalby 2014). At the same time, there has been a recognition that the military is a major contributor to climate change, and hence a move towards the greening of the military, as with the adoption of biofuels (Bigger and Neimark 2017). In fact, given the recent attempts at discrediting and dismantling of scientific institutions under the Trump Administration, the military is arguably now one of the leading US agencies on climate change.


This cycle of violence and contradiction encompasses a variety of temporalities and spatialities of environmental change. And, for us, leads to a host of new questions surrounding our understanding of, and resistance to, approaches to environmental change taken by the US military, and state and non-state institutional forms more generally (Harris 2012; Meehan 2014; Kunns 2018; Loftus 2018). What are we to make of the Janus-faced approaches to climate change that institutions, like the US military, take?


The purpose of these sessions is to explore how nature is rendered both as obstacle and opportunity to US imperialism. We welcome papers that interrogate the US military’s ideology of nature and its stewardship over the territory it controls. However, we are also interested in papers that address the intersections of nature, war and imperialism more broadly, e.g., particularly institutions beyond the military, or in places beyond the US (Gregory, 2016). How can critical geographers link, conceptually and empirically, militarism, war, imperialism, and environmental degradation?


Building on this, we further wish to grapple with the complex picture of what successful resistance might look like. How can diverse coalitions be formed between environmentalists and anti-imperialism activists? How are environmentalists confronting militarism? How are anti-war activists confronting climate change? What political formations can be forged to facilitate a climatically changed future that is just, liveable, sustainable, and peaceful?  And how might those diverse formations include institutions now under attack by the Trump administration, but which also have been, and continue to be, the ire of critical scholarship, eg the EPA (Neimark et al. forthcoming)?


We welcome empirical and conceptual contributions that engage with these themes. Conceptual interventions might build on a vast swathe of critical social theory, ranging from settler-colonial studies, to feminist and Marxist political economy, to (geo)political ecology and beyond. The range of empirical settings is similarly expansive, from historical analysis of social movements contesting environmental degradation and militarism to new manifestations of slow violence enabled by the US military’s world-spanning base network.
If interested in these sessions, please send an abstract to Patrick Bigger at p.bigger@lancaster.ac.uk by 18 October 2018. Decisions will be made by 21 October.


Bigger, P. and Neimark, B.D. (2017). Weaponizing nature: The geopolitical ecology of the US Navy’s biofuel program. Political Geography, 60: 13-22.

Dalby, S. (2014). Rethinking geopolitics: Climate security in the Anthropocene. Global Policy, 5(1), 1-9.

Gilbert, E. (2012). The militarization of climate change. ACME: An International EJournal for Critical Geographies, 11(1), 1-14.

Gregory, D. (2016). The natures of war. Antipode, 48(1): 3-56.

Harris, L.M. (2012). State as socionatural effect: Variable and emergent geographies of the state in southeastern Turkey. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 32(1): 25–39

Kuus, M. (2018). Political geography II: Institutions. Progress in Human Geography, https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132518796026

Loftus, A. (2018). Political ecology II: Whither the state?, Progress in Human Geography, https://doi.org/10.1177/0309132518803421

Meehan, K.M. (2014) Tool-power: Water infrastructure as wellsprings of state power. Geoforum, 57: 215–224.

Neimark, B. D., Childs, J. R., Nightingale, A., Cavanagh, C., Sullivan, S., Benjaminsen, T., Batterbury, S., Koot, S. & Harcourt, W. (forthcoming) Speaking Power to ‘Post-Truth’: Critical Political Ecology and the New Authoritarianism. Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

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