Conquest and colonialism

With Boling’s perspective in mind, we must, then, see conquest and colonialism as far more complex than simply the imposition of economic, military, or religious rule. Conquest and colonialism granted ‘rights’ not only of ownership but also of‘conceptualisation’ and ‘interpretation’—or ‘ways of seeing’ and ‘ways of not seeing’. The resulting epistemological distortions and injustices have been elaborated by de Sousa Santos (2014) and drawn upon by Goyes and South (2017: 168) in the following way: ‘“representation”, much like the drawing of a map’, often involves

selecting a limited amount of phenomena to include in the depictions of reality we make, and consequently disregarding a vast amount of other phenomena ... In order to represent something, its origins and traits need to be identified first. How we detect and recognize these will determine what we see and what we do not ... we sift reality through theories and methods and what appears at the end is what we “see” ... this process ... means that we are “blind” to everything that has not made it through the “sifting” process and is therefore absent from our knowledge. Spotting the phenomena to which we have been blind can open the doors to new knowledge acquisition.

The ways in which the ‘natural world’ were conceived, received and understood were influenced by a meeting of external politics and new interiors—new landscapes, peoples, species and the interior lives of ‘different’ imaginations based on different stories and legends. Tn the founding literature of the Americas’, explains Boling (2006: 246),

the expansionism of discovery and conquest and subsequently of nation building foregrounds the image of borders, and this delimitation and reconceptualization of nature creates various conflicts and oppositions that come to characterize the state and the political, economic, and social concept of that state.

(our emphasis).

The border between ‘civilization’ and ‘barbarism’—a ‘northern’ border imported and imposed—is a familiar point of recognition in post-colonial studies and in the sociologies and criminologies of divisions and divides, cores and peripheries. But it is also important to recall how such ‘borders’ were extended into the categorising, phenotyping and differentiating of ‘nature’ and ‘peoples’. To illustrate, in the famous non-fiction (yet partly fictionalised) work ‘Facundo’, subtitled ‘Civilization and Barbarism’, written in 1845 by Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (writer, journalis and 7th President of Argentina), themes of culture, development, modernisation and power are central. They are, in large part, so central because European ‘ideas’ or ‘knowledge’ are elevated here above local and Indigenous nature, practice and understandings. Sarmiento, Boling (2006: 247) contends, was js|trongly influenced by positivistic and deterministic perspectives, convinced that the milieu determines the character of those that inhabit it’ (our emphasis)—so ‘the natural world (along with its original inhabitants)’ is distrusted because it is a source of subversion of‘the goals of enlightenment and modernization’. This narrative of determination or discrimination between sources of ‘danger’ (nature and indigeneity) and ‘purity’ (European religion and enlightenment) (see Douglas 1966), is also noted by Stepan (2001) in her book. Picturing Tropical Nature, which, as Carey (2009: 231) observes, shows hownineteenth-century natural history influenced European views of tropical nature and societies. Scientists often portrayed tropical flora and fauna as enlarged, exotic, prehistoric, and unconquered. They depicted local people as racially distinct and degraded, as backward and incapable of taming their natural environments, as emasculated men and exploitable female specimens, and as mixed race (particularly “dangerous” with the rise of eugenics).

According to Boling (2006: 247), in nineteenth-century Argentina, the dominant proposition, as promoted by Sarmiento and like-minded leaders, was that ‘In order ... to ensure mankind’s dominance ... over nature and the land, the pampas are to be incorporated as a resource into the national project by their modification and use, and the original inhabitants are to be eradicated’. This was, as Boling (2006: 248) maintains, a ‘symbolic, political conceptualization’ that differentiated between populations in ways that were very' much based on notions of the kind of nature with which they' were associated. Hence, as Boling (2006: 248) continues, people

of Northern European descent were to be transplanted to the wilds of Argentina and the figurative “weeds” of Indigenous origin were to be eradicated. This binary opposition of civilization (represented by the city' based on European models and by specific populations or races) and barbarism (... the natural world and ... those elements—including the Indigenous ... associated in the Europeanized Argentine’s mind with the natural world) dominates much of the discourse of 19th- and 20th-century' narratives.

This narrative is powerful and, as Baumann (1989) shows, is the basis of thinking that justifies genocide—and, by extension, ecocide (see Crook, Short and South 2018). Baumann (1989: 92) analyses how modern European culture viewed itself as a ‘garden culture’, defining itself in terms of‘perfect’ arrangements for human conditions: jlt| constructs its own identity out of distrust of nature. In fact it defines itself and nature, through its ... longing for a better and necessarily artificial, order’.

Boling (2006: 248) suggests that in South America, ‘The modernization project requires the domination of man over nature, and nature—no longer a Paradise but rather the image of fallen man—is associated with evil, with primitivism, and constitutes an obstacle to progress’. It is no surprise, then, that the ‘fallen’ and the sources of corruption of what is ‘civilized’ appear in Latin American versions of European monsters, albeit sometimes appropriated as critique. There are further directions here that a green cultural criminology' could explore, perhaps, again, making connections with a gothic criminology and psychoanalytic explorations of hauntings (Frosh 2013). We offer an initial foray in the next section.

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