The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism

Living Edition
| Editors: Immanuel Ness, Zak Cope

Eco-Imperial Relations: The Roots of Dispossessive and Unequal Accumulation

  • Gustavo A. García LópezEmail author
  • Grettel Navas
Living reference work entry


Over the last decades, “imperialism” and “environment” have become closely linked concepts (Arnold 2015). Traditionally, scholars of empire had tended to ignore environmental issues (Arnold 2015; Foster and Clark 2004). Yet the surge of the environmental question in the social sciences and humanities in the last two decades has generated a breadth of studies from history, sociology, anthropology, political sciences, and other disciplines, showing how environmental issues at global, national, and local scales are inextricably linked to the history of colonization, postcolonial struggles, and the broader conditions of coloniality and imperialism persisting until this day.

From these new studies, a consensus has emerged that histories of imperialism and globalization are crucial to understand current environmental issues – and that indeed there is a symbiotic relation between imperialism and global environmental changes (DeLoughrey et al. 2015; Foster and Clark 2004). As...
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Gustavo García López thanks Natalia Hilario De La Cruz, student at the University of Puerto Rico, for her contribution to the literature review of the paper, and the UPR’s Training Academic Experience Program (PEAF) for its financial support. Grettel Navas acknowledges the support from the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant ENVJustice (No. 695446). Both the authors also wish to acknowledge the copyediting done at SPi Global for their professionalism.


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Cases from EJAtlas

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  2. EJAtlas. (2016a). Afectadas por el DBCP (Nemagón), Costa Rica.
  3. EJAtlas. (2016b). Farmworkers poisoned by DBCP (Nemagon), Philippines.
  4. EJAtlas. (2016c). Afectadas por el DBCP (Nemagón), Nicaragua.
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  1. EJAtlas (2019b) Nuclear colonialism and French nuclear tests, Polynesia .

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of PlanningUniversity of Puerto Rico-Rio PiedrasSan JuanPuerto Rico
  2. 2.Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Autonomous University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain