28 October, 2021

Author: Bryan P. Galligan, S.J.




The genocide–ecocide nexus has become the topic of a small but growing body of scholarly literature. This literature has largely relied on the original concept of genocide as developed by Raphael Lemkin, with a particular focus on how he conceived colonialism and cultural genocide. While these foci are both legitimate and helpful, Lemkin’s later work offers a different approach in theorising the nexus. After detailing the post-war development of Lemkin’s thought from eight ‘fields’ of genocide to three genocidal ‘methods’, I demonstrate how his later framework better accounts for the intersection between ecocide and genocide and I find precedent for it in Lemkin’s unpublished work on the History of Genocide, in which he discusses the case of indigenous peoples in California. I then test my modified genocide–ecocide nexus against the case of deforestation in the Amazon. I argue that Lemkin’s later thought better theorises the relationship between micro- and macro-level ecological destruction. It also reveals a missing link in the genocide–ecocide nexus: ecocide is the type of violence that, by its nature, increases the likelihood of future genocides. I conclude that post-ecocide resource scarcity as a driver of genocide often plays an integral role in the genocide–ecocide nexus.

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