CFP: Dimensions of the Global and Local Narco-Environments (SfAA 2018)

SfAA 2018 Panel Call for Papers

Dimensions of the Global and Local Narco-Environments

Organizers: Marcos Mendoza (University of Mississippi) and Carter Hunt (Penn State University)

This panel examines the global and local narco-environments with an eye to understanding conservation outcomes. The global narco-environment refers to the shifting social, territorial, political, and economic bases for the production, trafficking, consumption, and interdiction of illegal drugs (cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana, etc.), typically within highly adaptive, flexible global commodity chains. These narco-activities impact concrete physical environments and spatial locations, generating diverse outcomes ranging from ecological disruption and destruction to increased capacity for conservation.

Various scholars have drawn attention to the complex relationships between drug traffickers and transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) engaging in activities – both licit and illicit – that have direct consequences for the environment. TCOs and regional criminal organizations have promoted deforestation, unregulated mining, ranching, real estate investment, extortion, kidnapping, and assassination, as well as seeking to capture rents from industries ranging from palm oil to avocados to petroleum. Using terror and violence as tools, these narco-organizations have had major impacts on indigenous and peasant communities. Revolutionary insurgencies, self-defense militias, and paramilitary forces have been linked to conflicts deriving from the U.S.-led War on Drugs and the efforts by various states to root out production zones, decapitate cartels, and promote law and order. In some cases, the fear and avoidance of particular places associated with narco-activities has reduced extractive or otherwise destructive activities, leading to greater conservation outcomes than would otherwise have occurred.

The assembled panel will attempt to shed light on the differing conservation regimes generated within and across concrete narco-environments. Our goal is to gather ethnographically-grounded and theoretically-rich studies of the local and global narco-environments. First, panelists should speak to the fraught social and political relationships linking human communities and their neighboring environments to narco-activities and broader networks that might involve environmental NGOs, regional social movements, state conservation agencies, official and unofficial security forces (military, police, paramilitaries, etc.), or consumers. Second, panelists should address the cultural processes tied to these fraught socio-political relationships. How have actors generated new ways of perceiving, valuing, engaging, or appropriating the environment in relation to narco-activities? Third, panelists should discuss how these concrete sociocultural responses have generated variable regimes of conservation.

Potential topics include:

  • The impacts of the state-based militarization of drug policy (e.g. the War on Drugs), and associated regimes of policing and interdiction, on local landscapes and environmental conditions
  • The violent capturing of natural resources by TCOs, inter-cartel competition, and other organized trafficking activities
  • The ways that NGOs have initiated environmental restoration campaigns in response to resource extraction and depletion
  • Comparisons of environmental conditions and deforestation rates within private and public protected areas, indigenous territories, and narco-environments largely controlled by those involved in organized drug trafficking
  • Local communities’ responses to resource loss and physical violence, impacts on social positionality (class, gender, race, ethnicity, etc.), land tenure systems, traditional livelihoods, and traditional ecological knowledge

For consideration, email your paper abstract (100 words max.) to Marcos Mendoza ( or Carter Hunt ( by October 5, 2018. Please email either Marcos or Carter if you have any questions.