Green Planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Tyoto

By Ken Conca; Geoffrey D. Dabelko et al. | Go to book overview

NANCY LEE PELUSO


36
Coercing Conservation

The flurry of ecological awareness and action in the late 1980s has led to a proliferation of international environmental agreements among nation-states. . . . Such agreements assume that each nation-state, including those which have only recently emerged from colonialism, has the capacity, the internal legitimacy, and the will to manage all resources falling within its territorial boundaries. The implication is that the nation-state should be able to control the behavior of all users of all resources located within the state's (self-) declared jurisdiction, whatever the origin of the state's claim, whatever the nature of competition for those resources, and whatever the nature or origins of resistance to the state's resource control. 1

These strategies have elicited the formal commitment of many Third World officials and policymakers who, not surprisingly, stand to benefit from their involvement in such initiatives. Some states or state interests, however, appropriate the conservation concerns of international environmental groups as a means of eliciting support for their own control over productive natural resources. Indeed, some tropical developing states use conservation ideology to justify coercion in the name of conservation, often by using violence. The state's mandate to defend threatened resources and its monopolization of legitimate violence combine to facilitate state apparatus-building and social control. "Legitimate" violence in the name of resource control also helps states control people, especially recalcitrant regional groups, marginal groups, or minority groups who challenge the state's authority.

____________________
Excerpted from "Coercing Conservation: The Politics of State Resource Control", in The State and Social Power in Global Environmental Politics, eds. Ronnie D. Lipschutz and Ken Conca ( New York: Columbia University Press, 1993). © 1993 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.

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