AAG 2019 CFP- Threat Multipliers and Coalition Politics: Understanding and Resisting the Intersections of Militarism, War, Imperialism and Environmental Degradation

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Roosevelt 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Organizers: Patrick Bigger, Emily Gilbert
Chairs: Patrick Bigger


As the aphorism goes, the primary job of the US military is to ‘break things and kill people.’ This is a job at which it excels, not only in its most visible expressions of occupation, counter-insurgency, drone strikes, or expeditionary missions, but also through these operations’ degradation of environments and the atmosphere. In recent years, the US military has moved to account for actual and potential threat multipliers brought on by climate change. It anticipates being called out even more frequently to intervene in conflicts and humanitarian disasters across the globe, projecting and precipitating a dystopian future where unchecked emissions lead to widespread socioecological disruption, large-scale migration, and resource wars (Dalby 2014). At the same time, there has been a recognition that the military is a major contributor to climate change, and hence a move towards the greening of the military. In fact, given the recent attempts at discrediting and dismantling of scientific institutions under the Trump Administration, the military is arguably now one of the leading US agencies on climate change.

This cycle of violence and contradiction encompasses a variety of temporalities and spatialities of environmental change. And, for us, leads to a host of new questions surrounding our understanding of, and resistance to, approaches to environmental change taken by the US military, and state and non-state institutional forms more generally. What are we to make of the Janus-faced approaches to climate change that institutions, like the US military, take?

The purpose of these sessions is to explore how nature is rendered both as obstacle and opportunity to US imperialism. We welcome papers that interrogate the US military’s ideology of nature and its stewardship over the territory it controls. However, we are also interested in papers that address the intersections of nature, war and imperialism more broadly, e.g., particularly institutions beyond the military, or in places beyond the US. How can critical geographers link, conceptually and empirically, militarism, war, imperialism, and environmental degradation?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Alec Brownlow*, DePaul University, The duty of sacrifice: patriotism and the politics of self-destruction in the sacrifice zone 20 5:00 PM
Presenter Kevin Surprise*, Mount Holyoke College, Stratospheric imperialism: The militarization of solar geoengineering 20 5:20 PM
Presenter McKenzie Johnson*, University of Illinois, Who Governs Here? Minerals Governance, the State, and Violent Conflict in Rural Ghana 20 5:40 PM
Presenter Michael Dwyer*, University of Colorado, Boulder, Real countries? Legacies of denationalization and the politics of dispossession 20 6:00 PM
Discussant Emily Gilbert University of Toronto 20 6:20 PM

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