Keynote speakers

What is Green Extractivism? Exploring Past Research and New Frontiers

This presentation reviews the concept of green extractivism. Exploring preceding works and terms influencing the concept, this lecture offers a genealogical review of the term. This entails discussing definitions around extractivism, the first known use of the term and defining indirect and direct green extractivism. This short lecture concludes by highlighting relevant research areas in need of further development, with the intended hope that people will take up and expand on the offered definition. The term green extractivism seeks to expose taken for granted processes of extractivism underlying so-called “green,” “clean” and “sustainable development” processes, from low-carbon infrastructural development to eco-tourism schemes.

Alexander Dunlap is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo. His work has critically examined police-military transformations, market-based conservation, wind energy development and extractive projects more generally in Latin America and Europe. He has published two books: Renewing Destruction: Wind Energy Development, Conflict and Resistance in an American Context (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) and, the co-authored, The Violent Technologies of Extraction (Palgrave, 2020). This includes a forthcoming edited volume: Enforcing Ecocide: Power, Policing & Planetary Militarization (Palgrave, 2022).

Speaking on June 17, 2022 at 9:00 (CEST).

Photo credits: Alex Holm

Making coal sustainable? How nature conservation, corporate power and state violence create green extractivist fantasies in the German Rhineland 

German coal mine operator RWE makes two products: cheap electricity and ‘pretty new landscapes’. These ‘pretty new landscapes’ are meant to offset the destruction ancient woodlands, rare animal and human habitats for coal extraction in the Rhineland. They are entangled in (corporate) counterinsurgency efforts to delegitimise anti-mining resistance – including Public Relations works to paint RWE as sustainable, Corporate Social Responsibility programs to buy consent, and brute force deployed against land defenders and journalists to facilitate the dispossession and displacement of human and nonhuman communities until today. Corporate offsets thus not only support the extraction of coal in an era of global heating and mass extinction. Importantly, narratives within which offsets and other ‘green’ infrastructures are embedded capture imaginations through novel green capitalist fantasies of sustainability, marketed by an entire state/corporate/PR apparatus, creating imaginaries of ‘better nature’ with new lake landscapes, higher house prices, and recreational opportunities and a ‘better future’. This ‘better future’ requires a spectacular performance of sustainability that facilitates accumulation by restoration, and is grounded in the ontological flattening and erasure of existences to facilitate claims of commensurability and green extractivism.

Andrea Brock is a political ecologist and political economist with interest in the relationship between extractivism, corporate power, and state violence. She has conducted research on coal mining and hydraulic fracturing, renewable energy generation, and criminalisation of dissent. She completed her PhD dissertation with the title "Conserving power: An exploration of biodiversity offsetting in Europe and beyond" in 2019. In the dissertation, she analysed biodiversity offsetting as a technology of governance to manage anti-mining resistance and legitimise mining activities in the face of public opposition and ecological destruction. Before joining Sussex University in 2013, she worked at the the Institute for Environmental Studies at the VU University and a number of nongovernmental organisations on issues of trade, the right to food, and the environment. she is a co-director of the Centre for Global Political Economy, member of the STEPS Centre and the Sussex Energy Group, and she co-convenes the Politics of Nature reading group, together with Amber Huff.

Speaking on June 17, 2022 at 13:30 (CEST).

Reflections on Green Extractivism and Violence

How is green extractivism shaped by and how does it shape violent conflict? Starting out with a discussion of the multiple intersecting violences that are inherent to extractivism, this presentation raises the question if there is anything distinct about the violent nature of green extractivism. It also explores the inter-relations between green extractivism and armed conflict, reflecting again on the similarities and differences with conventional resource extraction projects. In searching for very preliminary answers to these questions, the presentation will draw on the insights that have emerged in the course of the conference.

Judith Verweijen is a Lecturer at the Department of Politics & International Relations at the University of Sheffield (UK). Her research looks at the interplay of armed mobilization, violence and conflicts around natural resources. Specifically, she examines the involvement of violent actors in resource conflicts amidst armed conflict and how they resist, enable or profit from resource exploitation. She has analyzed conflicts related to industrial and artisanal mining, logging, nature conservation and land. Her main focus is on eastern DRC, where she has conducted extensive field research since 2010.

Speaking on June 17, 2022 at 17:35 (CEST).