Browsing by Author "Buscher, Bram"
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- ItemFrom biopower to ontopower? violent responses to wildlife crime and the new geographies of conservation(Medknow Publications, 2018) Buscher, BramIntensifying global dynamics of wildlife crime are rapidly reshaping conservation politics, practices and geographies. Most pronounced are the manifold violent responses to wildlife crime, including direct lethal action and increasing anticipatory action to prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. This paper reflects on these dynamics in relation to recent literature that employs Foucault's concept of biopower to understand the governance of increasingly precarious human and non-human life. Building on Brian Massumi's exposition of ontopower – an 'environmental power' that “alters the life environment's conditions of emergence” – I explore whether we are seeing a move from bio- to ontopower where the imperative is less the construction of systemic forms of governmentality to ensure life's ‘optimisation’ than on processually pre-empting incipient tendencies towards unknown but certain future threats to life. Phrased differently, ontopower focuses on how to prevent nature's destruction in the future through pre-emptive measures in the present. Drawing on empirical research on violent responses to rhino poaching in South Africa, the paper argues that we are seeing the uneven emergence of new geographies of conservation based on ontopower. It concludes by speculating whether conservation's insecurity is turning into its pre-emptive other by making (green) war necessary for non-human life's survival.
- ItemLiquid violence : the politics of water responsibilisation and dispossession in South Africa(Water Alternatives Network, 2019) Marcatelli, Michela; Buscher, BramThis article introduces the notion of liquid violence to explain structural and racialised water inequality in contemporary South Africa. Investigating the Waterberg region in Limpopo Province from a water perspective reveals a growing surplus population composed of (ex-)farm workers and their families. Following their relocation – often coerced – from the farms to the town of Vaalwater, these people have been forced to rely on a precarious water supply, while white landowners maintain control over abundant water resources. And yet, as we show, this form of structural violence is perceived as ordinary, even natural. Our biopolitical concept of liquid violence emphasises how this works out and is legitimised in empirical practice. The argument starts from the neoliberal idea that water access depends upon the individual responsibilisation of citizens. For the black working poor, this means accepting to pay for water services or to provide labour on farms. For white landowners, it implies tightening their exclusive control over water and resisting any improvement to the urban supply involving the redistribution of resources. Supported and enabled by the state, liquid violence operates by reworking the boundaries between the public and private spheres. On the one hand, it blurs them by transforming the provision of public water services into a market exchange. On the other hand, and paradoxically, it hardens those same boundaries by legitimising and strengthening the power of those who have property rights in water.