Plantations and Colonialism

by Larry Lohmann

first published 15 December 2011

The distinction between industrial tree plantations and biodiverse landscapes organized in conjunction with commons regimes is not just a distinction between various vegetable assemblages, but also a social/technical/political distinction. The slave-worked plantations of the past and the industrial plantations of today do not merely prop up colonialism; they are constituted by colonialism. Today's industrial plantations are also intertwined with overaccumulation, overproduction, financialization, and many other so-called "social" things. Talking about "sustainable" industrial eucalyptus or oil palm plantations is like talking about "sustainable colonialism" or "sustainable overaccumulation."

A powerpoint presentation that sets out these arguments, delivered in Durban, South Africa in December 2011, is available upon request to The Corner House.