License to Kill: Contesting the Legitimacy of Green Violence

Robert Fletcher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The predominant focus within the growing body of research addressing 'green violence' - that employed in the name of protecting nonhuman natures - has been the exercise of such violence by representatives of nation-state regimes. Largely overlooked thus far, therefore, is a remarkably similar discussion conducted among civil society environmental activists, who have long debated the legitimacy of employing analogous forms of violence in their own defense of 'nature.' Juxtaposing these two discussions, this article explores how green violence has been discussed and contested among state and non-state actors, respectively. At stake in this discussion is the essential question of when, and by whom, green violence can be legitimately exercised. This question, in turn, raises the related question of who can legitimately employ 'biopower' when both state and non-state actors commonly justify green violence with quite similar claims to be acting in defense of imperiled forms of nonhuman life. In addressing these questions, this analysis suggests that we may need to rethink how biopower is being mobilised in the contemporary world wherein the nation-state political order is increasingly challenged by manifold forces while environmental concerns have at the same time come to be seen as one of the principle security threats to states, their subjects, as well as life as a whole.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-156
JournalConservation and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018


  • biopower
  • Conservation
  • environmentalism
  • green wars
  • protected areas
  • the state
  • violence

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