Extractivist violence and the COVID-19 conjuncture

by Paula Serafini

15 Sep 2021
Journal of the British Academy
https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/009s5.095
22 (pp. 95-116)

Abstract: This article consists of a theoretical development of the concept of extractivist violence, which is proposed as useful for understanding a conjuncture that is not only characterised by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by an urgent climate crisis resulting from violent extractivism. Extractivist violence is defined as the combination of different forms of violence exerted upon territories and upon racialised, gendered peoples (their bodies and their cultures) resulting from, and with the purpose of, perpetuating the extractivist model. It is engrained in the zones of extraction, but its logic extends beyond it. Taking Argentina as a starting point of enquiry, the theoretical proposal is followed by discussion of a series of events and phenomena unfolding during the COVID-19 crisis, with the aim of demonstrating how the perspective of extractivist violence is useful for arriving at a deeper and more nuanced understanding of the COVID-19 conjuncture. The article concludes with a consideration of the ethics of care as a counterpart to extractivist violence, and of the ways that care has underpinned a series of responses to COVID-19.

Keywords: Extractivism, violence, climate crisis, COVID-19, care.

Article posted to the Journal of the British Academy, volume 9, supplementary issue 5 (Climate Activism)

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