As part of Arts Catalyst’s programme Test Sites: Assembly, an ongoing inquiry into environmental change and communities’ responses to ecological challenges, this workshop will explore how the molecular nature of environmental violence is used to reinforce gender, ethnic, racial, class, or other forms of discrimination.
“We are not all in this together. Some environments are changing faster than others: in the US for instance, African American, Latino, and Native American have been disproportionately affected by the decision to locate polluting industries or toxic waste treatment stations in their vicinity.
Indigenous peoples are particularly at risk: in 2016 alone, 201 environmental activists were killed, most of whom from indigenous groups. Women are at the forefront of environmental struggles; initiatives like Womin, Not1More or COPINH (founded by Berta Cáceres) have been key to highlight gender discrimination and violence in environmental disputes.
What distinguishes environmental violence is how it is often invisible, slow, remote and indirect or, to make use of a term by Guattari, molecular. Contaminants such as mercury and arsenic left behind by mining, or pesticides used in the maintenance of plantation monocultures, slowly transform environments, and in doing so, often reinforce racial or colonial forms of violence (of course, colonialism was always an environmental project).
Globally, areas of resource extraction map out with racial lines, whereby it is the minorities, the wretched, which suffer most from the molecular effects of capitalism: be it directly from oil spills, water contaminations or air pollutants, or indirectly via the transformations these impose to possible modes of coexistence. In the context of today’s environmental transformations, more urgent than designing sustainable futures for a future climate change is recognizing how, for most people, the current situation is already unsustainable” – Godofredo Pereira
It is free to participate. Please send an outline (500 words max) of one case study of environmental violence to [email protected] by 18 April. You will briefly present this case in the last section of the workshop.