Enforcing Ecological Catastrophe: The Police and Military as drivers of Climate Change and Ecocide.
Editors: Alexander Dunlap, Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. Email: Alexander.Dunlap@sum.uio.no
Andrea Brock, Department of International Relations, University of Sussex. Email: A.Brock@sussex.ac.uk
Abstracts are due: September 1st, 2020.
Chapters are due: January 31st, 2021.
Abstracts: 250 to 500 words.
Police violence and climate catastrophe are both integral to our contemporary political and social orders. Like ecological crises, contemporary police institutions and tactics emerge from historical systems of intersecting racialized, class-based and patriarchal domination. While policy and popular discourses often assume that police enact ‘security’ on behalf of citizens in order to protect their bodies, property and rights, we are endlessly confronted with evidence to the contrary. Riots and protests against police brutality and murder are spreading in the United States, while countless land defenders (often indigenous) continue resisting and protecting their lands and habitats in the face of attacks, arrests and assassinations (see Scheidel et al., 2020). In the United States alone, 1,099 people were killed by police in 2019 (MPV, 2019), with people of color being three times more likely to be killed than white people. Meanwhile, Brazil is seeing a renewed wave of attacks against its Indigenous communities and invasions of their lands. The number of people who were killed while trying to protect their land, water or local wildlife has doubled over the last 15 years, with more than three land defenders killed a week in 2018 (Global Witness, 2019). The number of unreported cases is probably much higher.
The role of the police is to protect the existing system of capitalist political economy, shaped by colonial domination, white supremacy, patriarchy, statism, capitalism and multiple other systems of oppression resulting in the present trajectory of ecocide and climate catastrophe. Whether carried out by uniformed or undercover police officers, or military, paramilitary / mercenary or private security forces, policing is integral to the upholding of the dominate political and economic orders. Through systematic and unaccountable practices of violence, suppression, secrecy and coercion, they serve to suppress dissent, protect elite interests and defend resource extraction projects and profits based on the exploitation of people, control of their labor and the domination of social and biological life and nature.
The police represent an institution – a culture – that arguably poses the greatest social challenges to ecosystem and human health. Police and related security forces, we suggest, are a central pillar, if not crux, in the present trajectory of climate catastrophe, which this call for contributions seeks to investigate. This edited volume explores relationships between policing and ecological crisis. From police and military actions against land defenders, to resource intensive police logistics for everyday operations, to
the militarized patrol of ‘border walls’ and the private securitization of extractive enclaves, there remain important and under-explored relationships between ecological crises and policing institutions and logics at different scales.
We invite papers investigating these various intersections of security forces and ecological and climate degradation. The proposed call is open, but contributions may explore the following questions:
- How do police/security forces use, consume and destroy natural and processed resources, today and historically?
- How do police/security forces enforce conventional (hydrocarbon, mineral) and “green” (wind, hydrological, solar, geothermal, agricultural) resource extraction, stopping people from defending their land against state, corporate and elite actors? Alternatively, are there instances where police protect the environment from resource extraction?
- How do police/security forces participate in enforcing social behavior or habits that are ecologically destructive?
- What are the relationship between police/security forces, state structures/statist social relations and ecocide?
- How do police/security forces protect, operationalize or advance “green washing” projects, campaigns or products?
- How are repressive institutions “greened” (e.g. “green prisons;” the generation of renewable energy for the police/military; biofuels for tanks and warships; biodegradable teargas and/or bullets)?
These six analytical pillars are by no means comprehensive and we look forward to learning about other ways the police, and security forces more widely, are players in ecological and climate catastrophe.
We especially invite contributions by scholars and activists who work with/in communities that experience discrimination and are subjected to police violence, from the global South, Indigenous territories and non-academic contexts. These may include:
– (ecological) protest against the police and other types of every-day policing (such as PREVENT), employed to stop/defuse action to defend environments;
– anti-colonial/Indigenous resistance against megaprojects such as mining and infrastructure developments;
– analyses of the intersection between ecological and racialized police practices;
– analyses of the intersection between anti-nuclear resistance/militarism/ecological impacts;
– prison/police abolition;
– critiques of ‘green militarization.’
Please send a title page, organized as follows, to both the emails above:
Paper title; name and affiliation (if any); contact email; abstract (250-500 words); and 5-6 key words.
The deadlines are set at some distance due to COVID19 and the spike of recent riots and protests across the world. This topic is important to us and we hope to see strong investigations into the general theme of police and climate catastrophe.
We will let you know which proposals are accepted by October 2020.
Witness G. 2019. Enemies of the State? How governments and businesses silence land and environmental defenders Global Witness, Available at:
MPV (Mapping Police Violence). 2019. The Police Violence Map. Mapping Police Violence, Available at: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/.
Scheidel A, Del Bene D, Liu J, et al. 2020. Environmental conflicts and defenders: A global overview. Global Environmental Change 63:1-12.