Articles

The green economy as plantation ecology: When dehumanization and ecological simplification go 'green'

Authors: Vijay Kolinjivadi orcid logo (University of Antwerp) , Jean-François Bissonnette orcid logo (Université Laval) , Daniel Leguizamon Alejo orcid logo (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) , Laura Valencia (Independent Scholar) , Gert Van Hecken orcid logo (University of Antwerp)

  • The green economy as plantation ecology: When dehumanization and ecological simplification go 'green'

    Articles

    The green economy as plantation ecology: When dehumanization and ecological simplification go 'green'

    Authors: , , , ,

Abstract

The green economy is proposed as a solution to address growing and potentially irreversible ecological crises. But what happens when environmental solutions are premised on the same logics of brutal simplification and dehumanization that sustain and reinforce systems of oppression and ecological breakdown? In this article, we describe the transformation of the biophysical landscape of the planet into replicable blueprints of the plantation plot. The plantation as a colonial-era organizational template is an ongoing ecological process premised on disciplining bodies and landscapes into efficient, predictable, calculable, and controllable plots to optimize commodity production and is dependent on racialized and gendered processes of dehumanization. The visible cultural, physical, aesthetic, and political singularity of the plot, under the guise of objectivity and neutrality, permits a tangible depiction of the way ecological breakdown takes place. We interrogate the notion of "greening" as a strategy to combat the unintended impacts of colonial plantation ecology, arguing that such tactics further reinforce the template of plantation ecology rather than dismantle it. We first conceptualize the historical plantation and its biophysical, cognitive, and corporeal organizational principles. We then offer examples of "greening" as new, more inclusive (but equally detrimental) forms of plantation logics, and crucially identify how these extensions of plantation logic get co-opted by resistance agents, from social movements to disease and pestilence. We consider sustainability certifications of palm oil through the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Colombia and compensatory afforestation programs designed to offset forest destruction through monoculture plantations in India. We conclude by highlighting how abolition ecologies can serve as an antidote to plantation logic and highlight necessary relationships of self-reflexivity, repair and collective solidarity required to disinvest in plantation ecology.

Keywords: political ecology, capitalism, green economy, racism, Capitalocene

How to Cite:

Kolinjivadi, V., Bissonnette, J., Leguizamon Alejo, D., Valencia, L. & Van Hecken, G., (2023) “The green economy as plantation ecology: When dehumanization and ecological simplification go 'green'”, Journal of Political Ecology 30(1), 497–523. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/jpe.3022

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Funding

  • Belmont Forum/NORFACE/EC Horizon 2020 (grant 730211)
  • FWO (grant 12ZA921N)
  • Indo-Canadian Association Award
  • MITACS Globalink Fellowship

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Published on
24 Sep 2023
Peer Reviewed