Author: Thomas Crosbie
Yesterday, the Program for Society and the Environment and the Center for Research on Military Organization cohosted a fascinating presentation from Marina Malamud, titled “Resource-Based Conflict in Latin America: From Border Disputes to Internal Battles for Land Control.” Malamud is a tenured assistant researcher at CONICET, the Argentinian equivalent of the National Science Foundation, and was formerly a professor of military sociology at the Argentine Air War College. She previously visited UMD’s Department of Sociology to present her work on civilian control of the military in Argentina, Brazil and Chile. This presentation was also comparative and introduced her ambitious new project which links violence with environmental concerns throughout South America. The presentation and Q&A raised a number of questions that remain unsettled in my mind but which I think worthy of serious thought.
Malamud has a great hook for her project. South American countries have extraordinarily high rates of violence by global standards. They also have extraordinarily rich ecosystems, which are valued globally and locally and are essential to the survival of many indigenous and rural communities. Ironically (and tragically), South American economies are based on the extraction of raw materials, which pits metropole economic interests against peripheral communities’ reliance on the environment. Might the high rates of violence reflect the dark reality of this struggle over the environment?