Waste colonialism

Poisoning_water_is_genocide

Waste colonialism describes how waste and pollution are part of the domination of one group in their homeland by another group. The concept has been gaining traction since the 1990s to explain patterns of power in wasting and pollution. Because all waste and pollution are about power by maintaining structures that designate what is valuable and what is not, understanding the role of colonialism in waste is crucial for understanding waste and power generally.


The rise of the term “waste colonialism”

The term waste colonialism was first recorded 1 in February 1989 at the United Nations Environmental Programme Basel Convention working group when African nations articulated concerns about the disposal of hazardous wastes by high GDP countries into low GDP countries. That is, high GDP countries like those in Europe and North America were accessing African land for inexpensive disposal of waste. They were using Africa as a sink. 2

In its most common usage, usually by actors in formal governments and NGOs, the term waste colonialism is used to describe the transboundary disposal of a variety of hazardous and toxic wastes, including electronic-waste, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), industrial waste, decommissioned ships, municipal solid waste, radioactive waste, and other toxic waste. In these uses of the term, waste colonialism, as well as its sister terms garbage imperialism, toxic colonialism, nuclear colonialism, and toxic terrorism, among others, are almost always about the transboundary movement of waste from areas of privilege and affluence to areas with lower economic status and influence, and discussions tend to focus on legislative solutions and channels. 3

lepwasky-waste-flows-1996

Image of global electronic waste flows by Josh Lepawsky.

Colonialism is about access to Land 

But waste colonialism goes beyond the export of waste from colonial centers to the peripheries that make those power centers possible. There are many types of colonialism–settler, extractive, internal, external 4but they have something in common. Colonialism refers to a system of domination that grants settler access to Land5 for settler goals.6 This does not always mean property for settlement, or water rights for extraction. It can mean access to Land to obtain data for research, via foot or satellite. It can mean access to Land-based cultural designs and symbols for fashion. It can mean access to Land as a sink for pollution via pipelines, atmospheric currents, and shipping routes. In all cases, “Whatever settlers may say—and they generally have a lot to say—the primary motive [of settler-colonialism] is not race (or religion, ethnicity, grade of civilization, etc.) but access to territory. Territoriality is settler colonialism’s specific, irreducible element.”7

map eastern canada

Detail of colonial map of eastern Canada. The text in the ocean reads, “Banks of Acadia where the fishes are very good.”

Screenshot of website showing a protest in South Africa

Screenshot of petition site for the Wellington Association against the Incinerator (WAAI) in South Africa, a group that resisted and legally challenged the proposed incinerator.

The assumed entitlement to use Land as a sink, no matter where it is, is rooted in colonialism. Regulatory limits to pollution, which allow some degree of pollution to occur so long as it is below a legislated quantity, are colonialism because they make Land pollutable to begin with. The way waste and toxicities interrupt, damage, and even destroy Indigenous ways of being and relating to Land is colonialism. The exaction of oil and natural gas from Land to create plastic and paper disposables is colonialism. Recycling, incineration, and other waste managements that ‘take care’ of waste so that the extraction and access to Land can continue is colonialism. Exporting these models to other places and then blaming the local people for not properly managing colonial sinks is colonialism.8 Seemingly helpful and logical solutions to waste that involve access to Land for beach clean ups, to educate people, and to build incinerators is colonialism. They are all premised on settler access to Land for settler goals, even when those goals are well-intentioned.

For an overview of waste colonialism, see this video by Tina Ngata, the Non-Plastic Maori, created for 5 Gyres, a plastic pollution NGO: 

Indigenous People Want Plastic Out Of Their Environment! from The 5 Gyres Institute on Vimeo.

Waste and pollution make Land available for settler goals through dispossession

Not only is using Land as a sink premised on colonial ways of understanding and working in the world, but sinks can also make more Land available for settler goals. That is, pollution is not only an exercise of colonial domination, it can also be part of its imperial expansion.  

In his work on the privatization of common land via the enclosure movement in Britain during the 19th century, geographer Jesse Goldstein outlines how land uses based in commons (sharing land for different uses) was criticized because it was not being used as a resource (using land to its maximum economic value). He writes about how resource-thinking created “a landscape of wasted potential” that specifically wasted “‘the improvers’ economic right—presented as a natural right—to realize the maximum productive potential of all things, at all times, and in all ways.”9 When peasants “failed” to extract maximum value from a shared landscape, they were removed, the land was enclosed and privatized, and the peasants were reintroduced to the new enclosures as wage labourers on resource-rich land. Goldstein writes, “enclosure was a transformation from one moral conception of value to another”10 and from one concept of waste to another. More “than a particular historic technique of land reform in feudal England, and more than a collection of individual acts of theft or an uneven distribution of land and resources” dispossession and enclosure of land to reframe land as a resource is “a general way of seeing the world” based on “a particular (and persistent) logic of expropriation, produced in and as part of the land itself.”11 In short, the idea of resource and its moral underpinnings are particular to elite European thought in the 19th century.

Under imperialism, this moral understanding of the world as a resource in need of development was imported to the colonies. Like European peasants, Indigenous groups were seen to be “wasting” their Land. In 1876, an Indian reserve commissioner on Vancouver Island in the region currently known as Canada addressed members of “a Native audience” (Nation unspecified), who were being moved to reserves that were a fraction of the size of their previous Land bases. He explained, “The Land was of no value to you. The trees were of no value to you. The Coal was of no value to you. The white man came he improved the land you can follow his example.”12 This European settler commissioner, along with many of his contemporaries, thought “that until Europeans arrived, most of the land was waste, or, where native people were obviously using it, that their uses were inadequate.”13  

Land uses that were proper to civilization were understood by colonists as those that aligned with using Land to procure maximum economic value. The virtue of “good use” “functions as a usable property to disposes Indigenous peoples from the ground of moral value.”14 That is, if Indigenous peoples were not using Land as a resource, they were wasting it and could be moved off of it, making it available for settler development.

Development often included using Land as a sink. As economic geographers McCarthy and Prudham point out in the case of international trade agreements, “…(A)mong the ‘property rights’ being constructed [through trade agreements] is the right of some firms to pollute, the right to cause ecological harm and create environmental hazards for people in a given area.”15 Pollution becomes a legitimate, and even good, use of Land as a resource.

Within colonialism, one form of wasting (potential) was seen as a moral deficit, while another form of wasting (using Land as a sink) was seen as civilized, part of the morality born of cultivation and development that legitimized the dispossession of Indigenous peoples. Glen Coulthard argues that, “[l]ike capital, colonialism, as a structure of domination predicated on dispossession, is not a ‘thing,’ but rather the sum effect of the diversity of interlocking oppressive social relations.”16 These relations include those associated with the moralities of waste and pollution.

Dispossession by Contamination

Pollution and wasting can also accomplish enclosure and dispossession. Geographer Tom Perreault writes about how mining contamination on the Bolivian Altiplano results in such toxic water that people must leave their ancestral Land and livelihoods. He writes that “water’s dispossession can take other forms, including contamination, which remove it from the public sphere and effectively enclose it.”17 Dispossession by contamination is another way that Land is accessed for settler goals, whether intentionally or not.

Image of signs at a protest, including one that says

Demonstration in support of Standing Rock to stop DAPL occurred all over the world throughout 2016 and in March 2017 in Washington, DC. CC BY-SA 4.0

Toxic landscapes, water tables, soils, airs, and food webs mean that certain relations–Indigenous, ancestral relations–can no longer reproduce in that place. Michelle Murphy writes about this as reproductive injustice, where,

“uneven relations and infrastructure […] shape what forms of life are supported to persist, thrive, and alter, and what forms of life are destroyed, injured, and constrained. […] Reproductive justice is the struggle for the collective conditions for sustaining life and persisting over time amid life-negating structural forces, and not just the right to have or not have children. Reproductive justice is thus inseparable from environmental justice, antiracism, and anticolonialism.”18

The difference between capitalism and colonialism

Many of the examples used here are about industrial pollution and waste. It can be easy to conflate colonialism with industrialism and capitalism, but it is important to understand them as separate, if complimentary processes. Socio-economic systems other than capitalism also create environmental pollution and waste19 and depend on stolen Land. As Sandy Grande has argued, “Both Marxists and capitalists view land and natural resources as commodities to be exploited, in the first instance, by capitalists for personal gain, and in the second by Marxists for the good of all.”20 Marxism, socialism, capitalism, and other economic systems can have colonial relations to Land as a usable resource (settler access to Land for settler goals!), even when that resource is part of different kinds of economic systems.

Because of this nuance and its repercussions for politics, political scientist Glen Coulthard calls for a shift in analysis away from the capitalist relation (production, protelaritization) to the colonial relation (dispossession, access to Land):

“Like capital, colonialism, as a structure of domination predicated on dispossession, is not a ‘thing,’ but rather the sum effect of the diversity of interlocking oppressive social relations that constitute it. When stated this way, it should be clear that shifting our position to highlight the ongoing effects of colonial dispossession in no way displaces questions of distributive justice or class struggle; rather, it simply situates these questions more firmly alongside and in relation to the other sites and relations of power that inform our settler-colonial present.”21

Conflating colonialism with capitalism misses crucial relations. Coulthard argues that these include white supremacy and patriarchy, while Moreton-Robinson22 has shown that it misses racial formations and racism. For thinkers such as Tuck and Yang, “homogenization of various experiences of oppression as colonialism” — that is, conflating imperialism, racism, and capitalism with colonialism– accomplishes “a form or enclosure, dangerous in how it domesticates decolonization. It is also a foreclosure, limiting in how it recapitulates dominant theories of social change.”23 That is, people can be enacting environmental and anti-capitalist politics, and thus assume all the oppressive politics are being taken care of, but can leave colonialism intact.

In the case of pollution, a focus on capitalism misses the crucial role of colonial Land relations that make Land available for pollution in the first place. Such a focus can obfuscate the role of stolen Land required for sinks, for non-capitalist economies, and for environmental conservation. For example, anti-capitalist appeals for collective commons, including concepts of environmental commons, are usually in violation of Indigenous rights and are premised on stolen Land. Some forms of environmentalism diversify genres of settler access to Lands for a wider range of settler goals, from going “back to the land” to creating hydroelectric dams. This does not mean that environmentalism is inherently bad, or colonial, or elitist, but it does mean that it often–very often– reproduces colonial pursuits and logics.24

Not all pollution and waste are colonial

What would non-colonial forms of pollution and waste look like? If colonialism is about settler access to Land for settler goals, then pollution that does not allow access to Land for settlers might be one form of anti-colonial pollution.

I bring this up because of a pervasive form of well-intentioned but violent settler-based, pro-Indigenous activism around developments like mining or daming. Many settlers that are supportive of Indigenous rights are also supportive of environmental rights, and those two things are sometimes conflated (called the myth of the ecological Indian, where Indingeity is synonymous with a specific environmental relation).

But the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) clearly states that Indigenous groups have the right to development, where “control by indigenous peoples over developments affecting them and their lands, territories and resources will enable them to maintain and strengthen their institutions, cultures and traditions, and to promote their development in accordance with their aspirations and needs.” This can mean mining. It can mean aquaculture. It can mean hydrodaming. It can mean pollution and waste. Such development is an Indigenous right. Indigenous peoples are rightsholders, not stakeholders, on their Land.

Often, this doesn’t sit well with people. They want to support the rights of Indigenous peoples, but not that right.  Much like the Indian reserve commissioner on Vancouver Island in 1876, people think that using the land for mining shows a deficit of morality, of good use, of science, of civilized decision-making. It comes from conflating environmentalism with colonialism. They are different things, and conflating them continues to allow settler entitlement to Indigenous spaces via environmentalism.   

The right for Indigenous people to pollute their own Land, should they so choose, is one of the reasons that understanding the nuanced relationships between colonialism and pollution is so important. This doesn’t mean that it’s really great that Indigenous people can pollute their Land and wouldn’t that be a wonderful future, but it does mean that self-determination and sovereignty can and do take many forms, and that these are first and foremost the routes to anti-colonialism and decolonization. Any remedies to waste colonialism and other manifestations of colonialism will have to take self-determination and sovereignty (not to mention humility) seriously.

For more on waste colonialism, see this 35 minute video of Dr. Liboiron giving a webinar on the topic for 5 Gyres, a plastic pollution research & education NGO.

Waste Colonialism with Dr. Max Liboiron from The 5 Gyres Institute on Vimeo.

This text was written by Max Liboiron, with support from Melissa Novechefski. Much of this text is drawn from or builds on Liboiron’s in-progress manuscript, Pollution is Colonialism.

Categorized bibliography & resources

Grassroots & community articulations of waste colonialism

NGO articulations of waste colonialism

  • Ashayagachat, A. (2007, February 13). Japanese NGOs join Thai activists’ protests against (FTA) on hazardous waste. Bangkok Post. BBC Monitoring.
  • Basel Action Network (BAN). 2015. “More Canadian Garbage Found Illegally Dumped in the Philippines.” BAN News. May 22, 2015
  • Bernstorff, Andreas, and Kevin Stairs. 2001. “POPs in Africa: Hazardous Waste Trade 1980-2000 Obsolete Pesticide Stockpiles. A Greenpeace Inventory.” In Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; Estocolmo, SE. 22-23 Mayo, 2001. Estocolmo, SE.
  • Bernstorff, A., Targulian, O., Schonstedt, A., Puckett, J. (1993, November 25). Russia: The making of a waste colony. Retrieved from          http://www.skeptictank.org/treasure/GP4/RUSWST1.TXT
  • Bullard, R. D. (2004). Environment and mortality: confronting environmental racism        in the United States. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Identities, Conflict and Cohesion Programme Paper
  • Greenpeace Philippines. 2007. “Groups Slam Japan’s Waste Colonialism.” Greenpeace. May 2, 2007.
  • Hussein, B. M. (2010). The Evidence of toxic and radioactive wastes dumping in Somalia and its impact on the enjoyment of human rights: a case study. Unite d Nations Human Rights Council.
  • Puckett, J. (1994). The Basel opportunity: closing the last global waste dump. Greenpeace.
  • Van Daele, Stijn, Nicholas Dorn, and Tom Vander Beken. 2007. “European Waste Disposal Sector.” In The European Waste Industry and Crime Vulnerabilities, 17–142. Maklu.

Academic articulations of waste colonialism

  • Akpan, D. A., & Bassey, I. (2017). Economic diplomacy, global waste trade: The        African perspective since the 20th century. African Journal of History and       Archaeology 2(1), 1-10.
  • Barrios, Paula. 2007. “Liberal Environmentalism and the International Law of Hazardous Chemicals.” PhD Thesis, University of British Columbia.
  • Beukel, E. (2003). Ideas, interests, and state preferences: the making of multilateral         environmental agreements with trade stipulations. Policy Studies, 24(1), 3-16.
  • Bogale, Z. T. (2012). E-responsibility: e-waste, international law and Africa’s growing digital wasteland. UC Davis Journal of International Law and Policy, 18(1): 225-260.
  • CLEAR and TRU. (2016). Pollution is Colonialism. Pamphlet. Available at https://discardstudies.com/2017/09/01/pollution-is-colonialism/
  • Crumpton, A. C. (1998).Toward a democratice science? Environmental justice        activists, multiple epidemiologies, and toxic waste controversies (Doctoral    dissertation). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia,  USA.
  • Goode, S. D. (2010, July 11-14). ‘Is my cousin a mass murderer?’ The case of the oil- trading company Trafigura and relatives’ perceptions of a ‘crime of the powerful’. In A. Millie (Ed.), Papers from the British Criminology conference.
  • Kempel, W. (1999). The negotiations on the Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal: a national delegation perspective. International Negotiation, 4, 411-431
  • Khan, M. (2005). Environmental refugees, hidden costs of development and          ecological terrorism in Ecuador (Honours thesis). Pace University, New York, USA.
  • Kirby, Peter Wynn, and Anna Lora-Wainwright. 2015. “Exporting Harm, Scavenging Value: Transnational Circuits of e-Waste between J Apan, C Hina and Beyond.” Area 47 (1): 40–47.
  • Koné, L. (2014). The illicit trade of toxic waste in Africa: The human rights implications of the new toxic colonialism.
  • Lipman, Zada. 2002. “A Dirty Dilemma: The Hazardous Waste Trade.” Harvard International Review 23 (4): 68.
  • Lipman, Z. (2015). Trade in hazardous waste. In Alam, S., Atapatu, S., Gonzales, C.G.,            & Razzaque, J (Eds.), International Environmental Law and the Global South. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press: 256-276.
  • Martinez-Alier, J. (2001). Mining conflicts, environmental justice, and valuation.     Journal of Hazardous Materials, 86, 153-170
  • Nix-Stevenson, D. (2013). Human response to natural disasters. SAGE Open 3(3), 1-         12.
  • Pellow, D. N., Weinberg, A., Schnaiberg, A. (2001). The environmental justice movement: equitable allocation of the costs and benefits of environmental management outcomes. Social Justice Research, 14(4), 423-439.
  • Piddington, K. W. (1989). Sovereignty and the Environment: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 31(7), 18-39.
  • Pratt, L. A. (2011). Decreasing dirty dumping? A reevaluation of toxic waste colonialism and the global management of transboundary hazardous waste.  William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review, 35(2), 581-623
  • Reed, T. V. (2009). Toxic colonialism, environmental justice, and native resistance in          Silko’s Almanac of the Dead. MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the U.S., 34(2), 25-42

Uses of similar terms

“Reports about the dumping of American incinerator fly ash in Haiti and Guinea, Italian toxic wastes in Nigeria and Lebanon, and about contractual agreements between European firms and the governments of Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Equatorial Guinea, and Congo concerning waste exports led African politicians and pressmen to speak of “toxic terrorism,” “garbage imperialism,”, “neo-colonialism,” and “affront to the dignity of Africa.’”
Rublack, S. (1989). Controlling transboundary movements of hazardous waste: the evolution of a global convention. The Fletcher Forum, 13: 114.

Toxic colonialism

  • Kimani, J.W. (2009). Hi-tech yet highly toxic: Electronics and e-waste. Journal of     Language, Technology & Entrepreneurship in Africa, 1(2), 46-61.
  • Lipman, Z. (2002). A dirty dilemma: The hazardous waste trade. Harvard International Review, 23(4), 67-71.
  • Lipman, Z. (2015). Trade in hazardous waste. In Alam, S., Atapatu, S., Gonzales, C.G.,            & Razzaque, J (Eds.), International Environmental Law and the Global South. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press: 256-276.
  • Lucier, C. A., & Gareau, B. J. (2016). Obstacles to preserving precaution and equity in global hazardous waste regulation: an analysis of contested knowledge in the Basel Convention. International Environmental Agreements, 16(4), 493-508
  • Piddington, K. W. (1989). Sovereignty and the Environment: Part of the Solution or Part of the Problem?. Environment: Science and Policy for Sustainable Development, 31(7), 18-39.
  • Martinez-Alier, J. (2001). Mining conflicts, environmental justice, and valuation. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 86, 153-170.

Garbage imperialism

  • Bernstorff, A., & Stairs, K. (2001). POPs in Africa: hazardous waste trade 1980-2000         obsolete pesticide stockpiles: a Greenpeace inventory. Greenpeace.
  • Endres, D. (2009a). From wasteland to waste site: the role of discourse in nuclear power’s environmental injustices. Local Environment, 14(10), 917-937.
  • Kimani, J.W. (2009). Hi-tech yet highly toxic: Electronics and e-waste. Journal of     Language, Technology & Entrepreneurship in Africa, 1(2), 46-61.
  • Kummer, K. (1994). Yearbook of International Environmental Law (5th ed.). Handl,         G. (Ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 733-737.
  • Martinez-Alier, J. (2001). Mining conflicts, environmental justice, and valuation. Journal of Hazardous Materials, 86, 153-170.
  • McKee, D. L. (1996). Some reflections on the international waste trade and emerging nations. International Journal of Social Economics, 23(4/5/6), 235-244
  • Morris, D. (1987, May 18). Garbage imperialism must stop: let’s force cities to keep wastes in their own backyards. Los Angeles Times.
  • Nayar, K. R. (1994). The new era of growth: an epitaph to the environment. Social             Scientist, 22(9/12), 129-136.
  • Novikov, I. (2010). Electronic waste and collective liability of electronics manufacturers. http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1944833

Toxic terrorism

“Toxic terrorism” was primarily used during the late 1980s and early 1990s to refer to the global waste trade (O’Keefe, 1988, Rublack, 1989; Kummer, 1994; Ruffins, 1988; Vallette, 1993; Rogerson, 1990; Uva & Bloom, 1989), though there are exceptions (Steady, 2007; Choksi, 2001; Temper, 2013; Steady, 2014, p. 318). The term is also used to refer to the use of chemical weapons in terrorist attacks (Tucker, 2000, p.148).

  • Bernstorff, A., & Stairs, K. (2001). POPs in Africa: hazardous waste trade 1980-2000         obsolete pesticide stockpiles: a Greenpeace inventory. Greenpeace.
  • Choksi, S. (2001). The Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal: 1999 Protocol on Liability and Compensation. Ecology LQ, 28, 509.
  • Kummer, K. (1994). Yearbook of International Environmental Law (5th ed.). Handl,         G. (Ed.). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 733-737.
  • McKee, D. L. (1996). Some reflections on the international waste trade and emerging nations. International Journal of Social Economics, 23(4/5/6), 235-244.
  • O’Keefe, P. (1988). Toxic terrorism. Review of African Political Economy 42, 84-90.
  • Rogerson, C. M. (1990). Environmentally hazardous industry in South Africa: a spatial view. GeoJournal, 22(3), 321-328.
  • Rublack, S. (1989). Controlling transboundary movements of hazardous waste: the evolution of a global convention. The Fletcher Forum, 13, 113-125.
  • Ruffins, P. (1988, November). “Toxic terrorism” invades third world nations. Black   Enterprise, 31.
  • Steady, F. C. (2007). The black woman and the essentializing imperative: implications for theory and praxis in the 21st century. Race, Gender, & Class, 12(1/2), 178-195.
  • Steady, F. C. (2014). Women, climate change and liberation in Africa. Race, Gender &  Class, 21(1), 312-333.
  • Temper, L., Yánez, I., Sharife, K., Ojo, G., Martinez-Alier, J., CANA, Combes, M., Cornelissen, K., Lerkelund, H., Louw, M., Martínez, E., Minnaar, J., Molina, P., Murcia, D., Oriola, T., Osuoka, A., Pérez, M. M., Roa Avendaño, T., Urkidi, L., Valdés, M., Wadzah, N., Wykes, S. (2013). Towards a Post-Oil Civilization: Yasunization and other initiatives to leave fossil fuels in the soil. EJOLT Report No. 6.
  • Tucker, J. B. (2000). Chemical and biological terrorism: how real a threat? Current History, 99(636), p. 147-153.
  • Uva, M. D., & Bloom, J. (1989). Exporting pollution: the international waste trade.   Environment, 31(5), 4-5 & 43-44.
  • Vallette, J. (1993). Basel “dumping” convention still legalizes toxic terrorism. Toxic Trade Update.

Radioactive colonialism and nuclear colonialism

Endres (2009b) defines nuclear colonialism as “a system of domination through which governments and corporations target indigenous peoples and their lands to maintain the nuclear production process.” (p. 40) and “the disproportionate destruction of indigenous people and their land as a result of uranium mining and nuclear weapons development.” (p.40).

  • Bullard, R. D. (2004). Environment and mortality: confronting environmental racism        in the United States. United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Identities, Conflict and Cohesion Programme Paper.
  • Churchill, W. (1999). A breach of trust: the radioactive colonization of Native North America. American Indian Culture & Research Journal, 23(4), 23-69.
  • Endres, D. (2009a). From wasteland to waste site: the role of discourse in nuclear power’s environmental injustices. Local Environment, 14(10), 917-937.
  • Endres, D. (2009b). The rhetoric of nuclear colonialism: Rhetorical exclusion of American Indian arguments in the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste siting decision. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 6(1), 39-60.
  • Healing Ourselves and Mother Earth (HOME). (2012). Nuclear colonialism.  Retrieved from http://www.h-o-m-e.org/nuclear-colonialism.html
  • Kuletz, V. L. (1998). Tainted desert: environmental and social ruin in the American west. New York: Routledge.
  • Kuletz, V. (2001). Invisible spaces, violent places: Cold War nuclear and militarized landscapes, in Violent Environments Eds N L Peluso, M Watts (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY) p. 237-260.
  • LaDuke, W., & Churchill, W. (1985). Native America: The political economy of radioactive colonialism. The Journal of Ethnic Studies, 13(3), 107.
  • LaDuke, W. (1999). All our relations: native struggles for land and life. New York, NY: South End Press.
  • Richter, J. (2017). Energopolitics and nuclear waste: Containing the threat of radioactivity. Energy Research & Social Science, 30, 61-70.
  • Matsunaga, K. (2014). Leslie Marmon Silko and nuclear dissent in the American southwest. The Japanese Journal of American Studies, 25, 67-87.

Materialities of waste colonialism, including:

e-wastes

  • Kimani, J.W. (2009). Hi-tech yet highly toxic: Electronics and e-waste. Journal of  Language, Technology & Entrepreneurship in Africa, 1(2), 46-61.
  • Kirby, P. W., & Lors-Wainwright, A. (2015). Exporting harm, scavenging value: transnational circuits of e-waste between Japan, China, and beyond. Area, 47(1), 40-47.

POPs & industrial waste

  • Bernstorff, A., & Stairs, K. (2001). POPs in Africa: hazardous waste trade 1980-2000 obsolete pesticide stockpiles a Greenpeace inventory. Greenpeace.
  • Decommissioned ships
    Lipman, Z. (2002). A dirty dilemma: The hazardous waste trade. Harvard International Review, 23(4), 67-71
  • Van Daele, S., Vander Beken, T., & Dorn, N. (2007). European waste disposal sector. In T. Vander Beken (Ed.), The European waste industry and crime vulnerabilities (pp.17-142). Antwerp/Apeldoorn: Maklu

Household waste

Radioactive waste

  • Bernstorff, A., & Stairs, K. (2001). POPs in Africa: hazardous waste trade 1980-2000 obsolete pesticide stockpiles a Greenpeace inventory. Greenpeace.
  • Also see list on radioactive and nuclear colonialism above.

Non-waste toxic colonialism

Nix-Stevenson (2013, p.6), describe the waste disposal and experimentation with risky technologies in Puerto Rico by the United States Navy as toxic colonialism. Toxic colonialism is also used by Bullard (1993, p. 18), Crumpton (1998, p. 75), and Khan (2005, p.13) to describe the employment of Mexican workers in U.S. owned factories along the U.S.-Mexico border, where they are subject to poor working conditions, sanitation, low pay, overcrowding, and compromised health “at the hands of industrial employers” (Crumpton, 1998, p. 75).

  • Bullard, RD. (ed.) (1993). Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the       Grassroots. Boston: South End Press.
  • Crumpton, A. C. (1998).Toward a democratice science? Environmental justice activists, multiple epidemiologies, and toxic waste controversies (Doctoral dissertation). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia, USA.
  • Khan, M. (2005). Environmental refugees, hidden costs of development and ecological terrorism in Ecuador (Honours thesis). Pace University, New York, USA.
  • Nix-Stevenson, D. (2013). Human response to natural disasters. SAGE Open 3(3), 1-12.

On dispossession by contamination

  • Benjaminsen, T. A., & Bryceson, I. (2012). Conservation, green/blue grabbing and accumulation by dispossession in Tanzania. Journal of Peasant Studies, 39(2), 335-355.
  • Liverman, D. M. (2009). Conventions of climate change: constructions of danger and the dispossession of the atmosphere. Journal of Historical Geography, 35(2), 279-296.
  • Perreault, T. (2013). Dispossession by accumulation? Mining, water and the nature of enclosure on the Bolivian Altiplano. Antipode, 45(5), 1050-1069.
  • Weir, J. K. (2011). 10. Water Planning and Dispossession. Basin futures, 179.

On the colonial histories of contemporary environmentalism

  • Anker, Peder. 2001. Imperial Ecology: Environmental Order in the British Empire, 1895-1945. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Barton, Gregory Allen. 2002. Empire Forestry and the Origins of Environmentalism. Vol. 34. Cambridge University Press.
  • Grove, Richard H. 1996. Green Imperialism: Colonial Expansion, Tropical Island Edens and the Origins of Environmentalism, 1600-1860. Cambridge University Press.
  • Grove, Richard. 1990. “The Origins of Environmentalism.” Nature 345 (6270).
  • Komeie, Taisaku. 2006. “Colonial Environmentalism and Shifting Cultivation in Korea.” Geographical Review of Japan 79 (12).

Footnotes

  1. There are conflicting accounts of the exact source of the term. Porter, Brown, and Chasek state that it was the Dutch Minister of the Environment who referred to these practices of disposal as waste colonialism: “The issue of banning international hazardous waste trade, as opposed to regulating it, was defined primarily by African states, who characterized the trade as a form of exploitation of the poor and weak states by advanced countries and businesses. This definition of the problem drew support from some officials in industrialized states. The Dutch Minister of the environment, for example, called it ‘waste colonialism.’”While Barrios, based on archival research, writes that on “February 13, 1989, a representative of Luxembourg called on experts to work hard to ‘end waste colonialism.’” Both accounts refer to the same meeting. 
    Porter, Gareth, Janet Welsh Brown, and Pamela Chasek. 2000. Global Environmental Politics. 3rd ed. Boulder, CO: Westview: 105.
    Barrios, Paula. 2007. “Liberal Environmentalism and the International Law of Hazardous Chemicals.” PhD Thesis, University of British Columbia: 73, footnote 53.
  2. For more on the African case, see Hecht, G. (2012). Being nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. MIT Press.
  3.  For a source about how these wastes also move from low GDP to low GDP countries, see Lepawsky, J., & McNabb, C. (2010). Mapping international flows of electronic waste. The Canadian Geographer/Le Géographe canadien, 54(2), 177-195.
  4.  A good resource for different types of colonialism is Veracini, Lorenzo. 2010. Settler Colonialism. Springer.
    This text is written from the perspective of a Michif researcher in Canada. Canadian colonialism, which is characterized by settlement and extraction, is both similar to and different from other varieties of colonialism around the world. While some of what is written here will have legs and be able to make sense in other locations, some of it is so based in the context within which it is written that it won’t make sense elsewhere.
  5.  Land, with a capital L, which comes out of various Indigenous cosmologies, is not the same as land with a small l used in terms like landscape that are common nouns in English. Land is about relations between the material aspects we might think of as landscapes–water, soil, air, plants, stars—as well as histories, spirits, events, feelings, and other more-than-humans. Robin Wall Kimmerer writes that Land is, “everything: identity, the connection to our ancestors, the home of our nonhuman kinfolk, our pharmacy, our library, the source of all that sustains us. Our lands were where our responsibility to the world [is] enacted.” Kimmerer, R. W. (2013). Braiding sweetgrass: Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge and the teachings of plants. Milkweed Editions: 13.
  6.  Settler means guest: “All people not indigenous to North America who are living on this continent are settlers on stolen land. We also acknowledge that the state was founded through genocide and colonization– which continues today and from which settlers directly benefit. However, all settlers do not benefit equally from the colonial state. Not all those residing on this land immigrated here of free will, and while a pronouncedly racist power structure determines who gains the most from Dakota genocide, it is all of our responsibilities as settlers, especially those of us who descended from European colonizers, to challenge the systems of domination from which we benefit. [It is a] way to describe colonizers that highlights their desires to be emplaced on Indigenous land.” Unsettling Minnesota. 2009. Unsettling Ourselves: Reflections and Resources for Deconstructing Colonial Mentality. University of Minnesota: 43.
  7.  Wolfe, P. (2006). Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native. Journal of Genocide Research, 8(4), 387-409: 7.
  8. For a case study, see GAIA Coalition. Open letter. 2015. “Open Letter to Ocean Conservancy Regarding the Report ‘Stemming the Tide,’” October 2015.
  9.  Goldstein, Jesse. “Terra Economica: Waste and the Production of Enclosed Nature.” Antipode 45, no. 2 (2013): 360, 369. For more on the role of enclosure in the morality of maximum economic use and its opposite as waste, see: Comninel, George C. “English Feudalism and the Origins of Capitalism.” The Journal of Peasant Studies 27, no. 4 (2000): 1–53; Gidwani, Vinay. “Six Theses on Waste, Value, and Commons.” Social & Cultural Geography 14, no. 7 (2013): 773–783; Gidwani, Vinay K. Capital, Interrupted: Agrarian Development and the Politics of Work in India. U of Minnesota Press, 2008.
  10. Goldstein, Jesse. “Terra Economica: Waste and the Production of Enclosed Nature.” Antipode 45, no. 2 (2013): 372.
  11.  Goldstein, Jesse. “Terra Economica: Waste and the Production of Enclosed Nature.” Antipode 45, no. 2 (2013): 372.
  12. Cited in Harris, R. Cole. Making Native Space: Colonialism, Resistance, and Reserves in British Columbia. UBC Press, 2011: 108.
  13. Harris, Cole. “How Did Colonialism Dispossess? Comments from an Edge of Empire.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 94, no. 1 (2004): 170.
  14. Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. University of Minnesota Press, 2015: 176. Also see: Nicoll, Fiona. “Indigenous Sovereignty and the Violence of Perspective: A White Woman’s Coming out Story.” Australian Feminist Studies 15, no. 33 (2000): 369–386.
  15. McCarthy, J., & Prudham, S. (2004). Neoliberal nature and the nature of neoliberalism. Geoforum, 35(3): 337.
  16. Coulthard, G. 2014. Red Skin, White Masks: Rejecting the Colonial Politics of Recognition 2014 Minneapolis: Minnesota Press: 15.
  17. Perreault, T. (2013). Dispossession by accumulation? Mining, water and the nature of enclosure on the Bolivian Altiplano. Antipode, 45(5): 1051.
  18. Murphy, M., 2017. The economization of life. Duke University Press: 141-142. For more on cultural reproduction and food contamination, see: Hoover, E. (2013). Cultural and health implications of fish advisories in a Native American community. Ecological processes, 2(1), 4.
  19.  Gille, Zsuzsa. 2007. From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary. Indiana University Press.
  20. Grande, Sandy. 2015. Red Pedagogy: Native American Social and Political Thought. Rowman & Littlefield: 31.
  21. Coulthard, Glen. 2014. Red Skin, White Masks. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  22. Moreton-Robinson, Aileen. 2015. The White Possessive: Property, Power, and Indigenous Sovereignty. University of Minnesota Press: 17, 3.
  23. Tuck, Eve, and K. Wayne Yang. 2012. “Decolonization Is Not a Metaphor.” Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society 1 (1): 17, 3.
  24. See the bibliography at the end of this post for sources on the early intertwined histories of colonialism and history, and particularly when colonial states acted in proto-environmentalist ways at the expense of capitalism in order to maintain access to Indigenous Land.

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