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What Are We Really Looking For? From Eco-Violence to Environmental Injustice

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Natural Resources and Social Conflict

Part of the book series: International Political Economy Series ((IPES))

Abstract

The literature on eco-violence and environmental conflict, and its future as an interdisciplinary subfield, has a foundational problem if it is really based on the study of violence. This is because there is no accepted definition of ‘violence’ itself, and because the use of the term for any purpose other than strictly observing harm is misleading, especially if it is employed as a dependent variable (and it almost invariably is). However, there are conceptions of violence which are very useful indeed to ponder as they relate to the work of those studying eco-violence. In particular, the divide between agential and structural violence is pertinent, and I suggest there are various forms of ecocide which illustrate the dubiousness of their analytic separation (much in line with most resolutions, however unsatisfactory, of the agent-structure debate within International Relations (IR)). I then proceed to suggest that the theme of justice is as, if not more, important as the theme of violence in this work. Scarcity may cause conflict which is manifested in violence. Of course, violence may result in environmental degradation, which in further turn leads to conflict, and I have referred elsewhere to the image of a circle of ecocide derived from this empirically observable chain of events (Stoett, 2000).

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© 2012 Peter Stoett

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Stoett, P. (2012). What Are We Really Looking For? From Eco-Violence to Environmental Injustice. In: Schnurr, M.A., Swatuk, L.A. (eds) Natural Resources and Social Conflict. International Political Economy Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137002464_2

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