Nature, geopolitics, intertextuality a discourse analysis of environmental security /

by Schlosser, Kolson.

Abstract (Summary)
This dissertation is a discourse analysis of literature on ‘environmental security,’ which was popularized originally in the 1990s, but is still influential in policy circles today. This literature is constructed by a wide range of authors, including academics, foreign policy and defense establishment officials, and sometimes environmentalists. Though this literature is constructed in different ways, it usually either refers to a fairly direct link between environmental change and violent conflict at various scales, or that, as a consequence, environmental issues ought to be treated as issues of national security, or both. The development of this literature is often hailed as a re-introduction of nature into geopolitics, and an academic and policy discourse enabled by a lightened defense burden at the end of the Cold War. Critics often suggest that it was a shifting of the constitutive ‘other’ from the Soviet Union to the environment, in part to justify exorbitant defense budgets. While the latter argument is more accurate, I use theories of intertextuality outlined by Julia Kristeva, and theories of semiotics outlined by Roland Barthes, in order to show a deeper discursive history of the idea of environmental security. These serve as valuable tools to analyze and draw together a wide range of texts, including WWI era literature advocating military ‘preparedness,’ early Cold-War U.S. geopolitical documents, and neo-Malthusian texts stretching from the first half of the 20th century (and some beyond) in order to show how they inform and constrain more current environmental security literature. This analysis challenges the ‘newness’ of environmental security and argues that it is highly informed by naturalist epistemologies in the social sciences throughout the iii 19th and 20 th centuries. I also argue that the Cold War ‘othering’ of the Soviet Union was also informed by discourses of nature, both in the sense that the spread of Soviet communism was seen as enabled partly by population-resource imbalances in the developing world, and also in the sense that ‘containment’ doctrine was understood as a form of ‘quarantine’ of an allegedly parasitic ‘other.’ Rather than being a new set of policies, I argue that environmental security is an extension of post-war developmentalism and sustainable development discourse, with the difference being only a slightly more direct rhetorical linking of environment and security. Using these theoretical tools to find common discursive themes throughout a broad range of literature both enables a genealogical history of environmental security in order to better theorize its development, and helps show the relevance of discourses of environment, security and environmental security to real, lived experiences of environmental insecurity. iv
Bibliographical Information:


School:Pennsylvania State University

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:

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