The Outlawed Earth/La Tierra Proscrita: Spectrums of violence, the visible, and the politics of Memoria Ambiental

Martin, Hannah Julia Meszaros. 2019. The Outlawed Earth/La Tierra Proscrita: Spectrums of violence, the visible, and the politics of Memoria Ambiental. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The general claim of my thesis is that the criminalisation of non-human life has transformed and thus expanded the terms of violence. The goal of this practice-based research project is to elaborate on how this ‘expansion’ has manifested itself in visual terms. Specifically, the project focuses on the systematic and legally sanctioned eradication of the coca plant in Colombia via aerial fumigation and other means. This eradication, I argue, is paradigmatic of the ways in which legal reclassifications produce new objects of contestation that, in turn, produce new forms of violence. I examine how this violence is registered visually in certain practices of agriculture found in the Colombian forest; these practices I term ‘the forest/farm’. These spaces are posited as a mode of resistance that recognises the inherently political nature of planting in the context of the Colombian armed conflict, the conversion of the environment into a source of capital and the global crisis of climate change.

I trace the history of aerial fumigation as both a tactic of colonial violence and Cold War counter-insurgency, leading up to its usage in Colombia. The visual practice traces forest and agricultural transformations resulting from the aerial fumigation of coca, and subsequent large-scale extractive interventions, in order to examine how legal instruments write themselves directly into the environment. Central is the question of visual evidence in relation to environmental violence and what can be called ‘earth crimes’ as they relate to armed conflict.

The centrality of the visual in relation to the production of evidence and environmental violence has become especially apparent in the wake of the 2016 Peace Agreement between the FARC and the Colombian government. In a ‘post-conflict’ that looks very much like conflict, I argue for the cultivation of a form of ‘earthly memory’ that can bear witness to the destruction of war and ecocide, thus articulating the deep connections between political and environmental violence.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00027655

Keywords:

Environmental violence, Colombia, the War on Drugs, coca, visual evidence, herbicides, ecocide

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Visual Cultures > Centre for Research Architecture

Date:

31 October 2019

Item ID:

27655

Date Deposited:

27 Nov 2019 12:06

Last Modified:

10 Jun 2021 16:21

URI:

https://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/27655

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