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Nature is a Battlefield: Towards a Political Ecology

By: Razmig Keucheyan(Author)

Polity Press

Paperback | Sep 2016 | #237701 | ISBN-13: 9781509503780
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £16.99 $22/€19 approx
Hardback | Sep 2016 | #237700 | ISBN-13: 9781509503773
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £54.99 $72/€62 approx

About this book

In the midst of the current ecological crisis, there is often lofty talk of the need for humanity to 'overcome its divisions' and work together to tackle the big challenges of our time. But as this new book by Razmig Keucheyan shows, the real picture is very different. Just take the case of the siting of toxic waste landfills in the United States: if you want to know where waste is most likely to be dumped, ask yourself where Blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans and other racial minorities live and where the poorest neighbourhoods are. This kind of 'environmental racism' is by no means restricted to the United States: it is very much a global phenomenon.

Keucheyan show how the capitalist response to the crisis has been marked by a massive expansion in 'environmental finance'. From 'carbon markets' to 'pollution permits', 'climate derivatives' and 'catastrophe bonds', we are seeing a proliferation of nature-related financial products. Instead of tackling the root of the problem, the neoliberal strategy seeks to profit from environmental risks.

Moreover, with the rise in natural disasters, resource scarcity, food crises, the destabilization of the poles and oceans and the prospect of tens of millions of 'climate refugees', Western powers are increasingly adopting a military response to ecological problems. The Cold War is over: welcome to the 'green wars'. From New Orleans to the Siachen glacier via the Arctic floes, Keucheyan explores the landmark sites of this new 'climate geostrategy'.

Through a sharp critique of the way capitalism responds to environmental disaster, this innovative book provides a fresh perspective on some of the most critical issues confronting our societies today.

"We now have an eloquent new perspective on the crises of our time, illuminating the multiple links and intricate relationships among inequality/racism/globalization on the one hand, and the capitalist, financial, and military elites that drive them, on the other, all of this mediated by their multiple connections to the state and nature. Nature is a Battlefield is essential reading for understanding the next fifty years."
– John Foran, University of California, Santa Barbara



Chapter One: Environmental racism
      A philosophical event
      The colour of ecology
      Hurricane Katrina as a metaphor for environmental racism
      The spatiality of racism
      Lead poisoning and class struggle
      Postcolonialism and environmental crisis: the conflict in Darfur
      Ecological inequalities: A Marxist approach
      The archaeology of environmental racism
      Race and reforestation
      Purifying nature
      and naturalising race
      Exporting the environment
      The coming political ecology

Chapter Two: Financialising nature: Insuring climatic risks
      Financial markets plugged into nature
      Principles of insurance
      New risks?
      The ontology of catastrophe
      Risk and postmodernity
      Cat (catastrophe) bonds
      Nature as real abstraction
      Carbon markets and unequal development
      Constructing profitable markets
      A multi-cat bond in Mexico
      Ecological crisis and the fiscal crisis of the state
      A derivative nature
      Nature as accumulation strategy

Chapter Three: Green wars, or the militarisation of ecology
      A doctrine emerges
      A benevolent dictatorship
      Chaos specialists
      Terrorism and climate change
      The new military ecology
      Conservation and counter-insurgency
      Agent Orange
      From the Cold War to green wars
      The end of conventional wars?
      Double movement
      Climate refugees
      Nuclear deterrence and ecological crisis
      War and biofuels
      The oceans destabilised
      The scramble for the Arctic
      The North Pole and globalisation
      Commodifying the thaw
      The speed of the circulation of capital

Conclusion: Game over?

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Razmig Keucheyan teaches sociology at the University of Paris IV-Sorbonne.

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