CfP POLLEN20 – ‘Defenders’, atmospheres of violence in conservation, extraction, and ‘sustainable’ development

Session organizers

If you are interested in contributing a paper, please send a title and abstract to Mary Menton ( by 15 November. If you would like to express interest or discuss the session proposal before sending an abstract, please get in touch with Mary, Philippe LeBillon ( and/or Peter Larsen (peter.larsen@unigh.che)

Session description

This session will address the atmospheres and dynamics of violence surrounding conservation and development projects. Global Witness reports have highlighted the murders of ‘environmental and land defenders’, recording 1748 killings since 2002. For every ‘defender’ murdered, thousands more are threatened, criminalised, and suffer attempts to repress their struggles. This session proposal, which complements the ‘Who/what is an environmental defender?’ panel proposal, explores the drivers and wider contexts of these murders, but also the different forms of violence experienced by environmental defenders, by those who fight for land rights, and other groups who fight against the powerful actors who perpetuate violence against them. We invite papers that explore these issues in the context of ‘sustainable’ development, ‘green’ development, conservation, or extractive industries.

CfP POLLEN18: Conservation in ‘violent environments’

Organizers: Esther Marijnen, Rosaleen Duffy (University of Sheffield), and Lotje de Vries (Wageningen University)

Abstract deadline: 01 December 2017

This panel focuses on the dynamics and politics of nature conservation in challenging, or so called ‘violent environments’ (Peluso and Watts, 2001). We aim to explore how ideas, concepts and theories in the critical conservation literature are challenged when applied to spaces where the (often violent) politics surrounding conservation is itself immersed within a larger violent environment. Recent debates in political ecology focus on the emergence and spread of ‘green violence’ (Büscher and Ramutsindela, 2016), ‘green wars’ (Ybarra, 2012; Büscher and Fletcher, forthcoming), ‘green militarisation’ (Lunstrum 2014; Duffy 2014) and the greening of counter-insurgency (Dunlap and Fairhead, 2014; Verweijen and Marijnen, 2016). Others have focussed on how these projects are re-produced via (social) media, embedded reporting and the involvement of celebrities in militarised conservation (Lunstrum, 2017; Büscher, 2016; Marijnen and Verweijen, 2017). This literature mostly focuses on the structural and symbolical forms of violence associated with ‘green militarisation’. However, an area which is overlooked and under researched is when and why armed conservation can turn into physical violence, and how other violent contestations feed into the conservation efforts.

Read more

The poacher-as-terrorist; the ‘benefit’ of seeing nature conservation as a security issue


Author: Bente Meindertsma for Vice Versa

The perception of environmental problems as security issues gave rise to a powerful, but false idea that poaching is financing terrorist organizations like Al-Shabaab. The poacher-as-terrorist is extremely beneficial to conservation NGO’s, as it gives them access to the large budget that is available for security initiatives. However, their militarized approach is marginalizing local communities and is failing to protect wildlife on the long term. Read more

Why resource extraction and nature conservation lead to increasing conflict and violence

Author: Bente Meindertsma for Vice Versa

We seem to have entered a new phase in the relation between violence and environment. Increasing violence against wildlife and communities living in protected areas and conflicts over access to natural resources have led scientists in the field of political ecology to discuss the causes and impacts of these dynamics at the PE-3C conference in Wageningen.

2015 was the deadliest year ever for environmental activists, according to a recent report by human rights NGO Global Witness. 185 people were killed, an increase of 59% compared to the previous year. The report shows how deeply environmental issues are intertwined with political struggle, conflict and the uneven distribution of power. The scientific field of political ecology focusses on just that, by studying how different interests, forms of power and politics influence and frame our relationship to environmental issues and access to natural resources. At the recent Political Ecology conference in Wageningen (PE-3C), more than 350 scientists and activists came together to discuss the political ecologies of conflict, capitalism and contestation. Read more