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

By Gustavo A. García López, Grettel Navas

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 DeLoughrey et al. (2015) observe, “experiences of environmental violence, rupture and displacement” related to colonization are central ecological challenges across the Global South. Yet, despite the increasing attention to these issues, there is still insufficient conceptualization and empirical investigation of environmentimperialism relations, and there is great variation in the approaches taken to their study (Arnold 2015; DeLoughrey et al. 2015). 


Imperialism, Environment, Eco-imperialism, postcolonialism, ecology

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Grettel Navas email hidden; JavaScript is required, Gustavo A. García López email hidden; JavaScript is required

Chapter published in ‘The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism’