Article: Tolerating Mass Murder

a project by virtual migrants

Tolerating mass murder: Diaspora consciousness, genocidal migration and climate imperialism

this is a summary article – read the full paper here


Summary of intentions, approach and academic paper by Kooj Chuhan

(a more accessible format article is to be produced soon)

Predictions for global depopulation resulting from climate change are devastating: the possible extermination of three-quarters of the population and equally devastating levels of forced migration.  Defining “climate change” as the cause is called into question; if climate change is a symptom of various processes of environmental depletion, is it diversionary to use it as a cause?  Decades of depletion have been affecting so-called Third World economies with raised levels of poverty, illness and mortality and such recipients of these effects are currently enduring what the West is contemplating.  The West ignores desertification and mass poisoning such as Bhopal and the Niger Delta, yet the realisation of a symptom which affects the entire planet and therefore the West themselves – climate change – then captures attention.

Climate change clearly needs radical strategies, but also a re-writing from an anti-imperialist perspective.  Imperialist socio-economic genocide has a parallel genocide of the environment and bio-diversity, resulting from the same root.  An ideologically-driven set of values has taken pride of place across the world, based on being able to consume commodities with complete disconnection from the environment.  Such a commodification is central to western-led thinking, and discussions about tackling climate change are themselves commodified, a process analysed here using Gramsci’s theory of “contradictory consciousness”.  The strategies to tackle this disconnection using the language of commodification is in opposition to holistic and ‘connected’ languages, meanings and values which have evolved over many years and still survive amongst less industrialised communities of the world.  Critically reconnecting with such sets of values is a radical step to take, yet the suppression of such possibilities due to those values having been deemed as inferior is a part of the same system of dominance which has brought about climate change.

For diaspora communities in the West, the generalised national dialogue of climate change along with its domination by western experts has undermined their connections with the environmental issues affecting their ancestral communities.  This is compounded by more immediate needs to integrate, to fulfil economic ambitions and to deal with discrimination.  However, the possibilities of mobilising sections of such diasporas around climate justice and deeper contexts are significant, along with potentials to nurture connections for the West, not simply to issues affecting ‘Third World’ societies, but moreover to a different set of value systems and ideological lifestyles which must be reintroduced, adapted and disseminated for a radically different social system to be possible.

Virtual Migrants are developing a digital-social art project titled “The Centre Cannot Hold” using democratic dialogues towards a de-commodification of the issues, to be premiered in autumn 2009 at The Arnolfini (Bristol, UK) as a part of “C-words” curated by Platform (London).  It will involve cultural, artistic and educative approaches to connecting groups and individuals with activists and counterparts in other parts of the world using internet technology, including one-to-one intimacy between people across the globe towards an engagement which can be emotional, social and ideological, along with a concomitant cultural production base to disseminate this process.  The theoretical and methodological underpinnings, approaches and outputs will be discussed in this paper.

Read the full paper here, as first presented and published by ISEA 2009 (Belfast, Northern Ireland) or use the menu links at the top.

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