Mountain Violence: Climbing Adventures and Glacial Retreat in Equatorial Alpine East Africa

Authors: Bilal Butt*, University of Michigan
Topics: Mountain Environments
Keywords: East Africa, Mountains, Political Ecology, Violence
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 10:00 AM / 11:40 AM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Mountains are often thought of as sites of endemic biodiversity, repositories of knowledge about climatic changes through their ice records, and as living resources for millions of people who live around them. Missing from these literatures are how mountains are also sites of resource exploitation and violence. In this paper, I demonstrate how new forms of prosaic violence are being committed through climbing of mountains. Often popularized through thrill seeking adventurers and celebrities performing charity appeals, the climbing of Mt. Margherita (Uganda), Mt. Kenya and Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) has increasingly generated new forms of violence. I detail how the deliberate censorship of the dangers that these mountains pose to climbers by the State and the violence of exploitation imposed on porters and climbing guides contributes to a normalization of violence. I also demonstrate how the progression of violence also has material implications where the high number of visitors to these regions results in changes to the geomorphology of mountains through rock falls and break away of glacial ice sheets.

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