While growth and pollution swim in unholy alliance along all major rivers in the global south, consumerism triggered climate change is a way of life in the global north. Both are an act of delayed destruction dispersed across time and space that rarely get viewed as some form of ‘violence’ against nature. Violence, argues Rob Nixon, is highly visible act that is newsworthy because it is event focused, time bound and body bound. What often goes unobserved, undiagnosed and therefore untreated is the worst manifestation of violence. Yet, it does not get acknowledged at any level because our cultural moment is in thrall to speed and spectacle, which has the effect of distorting our perception of what counts as violence.
‘My central concern was to find a new way of drawing attention to the long dyings - the staggered and staggeringly discounted casualties, both human and ecological - that are underrepresented in strategic planning and official memory’, says Dixon.Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor is an innovative and passionate attempt at defining ‘violence’ that is subtle but part of our daily existence. It's a type of violence that is often bloodless and by the time the casualties are incurred, the original fatal actions have sunk into what is often called ‘the lagoon of oblivion.’ In the age of regulatory oversight, the perpetrators of ‘slow violence’ conveniently build forgetfulness into their economic strategy.
Be the dam builders or highway contractors, they invariably know that they won't have to pay. The book aims to help activists put their finger on such violators with the 'language' that can strengthen the widespread struggles against slow violence, struggles that ideally are preemptive but too often are ex post facto. Certainly, one of the most pressing challenges of our age is how to adjust rapidly eroding attention spans to the slow erosions of environmental justice among communities that have the least access to media power.Written in inspiring prose, the book bridges the fields of eco-criticism and postcolonial studies. Without doubt, 'slow violence' is a phrase that is here to stay and for rightful reasons!....Link
Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
by Rob Nixon
Harvard University Press, Massachusetts
353 pages, US$ 40