James J. A. Blair

Oct 13, 2023

Salvaging Empire

Sovereignty, Natural Resources, and Environmental Science in the South Atlantic

Cornell University Press 2023

Salvaging Empire: Sovereignty, Natural Resources, and Environmental Science in the South Atlantic (Cornell University Press, 2023) by Dr. James J. A. Blair probes the historical roots and current predicaments of a twenty-first century settler colony seeking to control an uncertain future through resource management and environmental science.

Four decades after a violent 1982 war between the United Kingdom and Argentina reestablished British authority over the Falkland Islands (Las Malvinas in Spanish), a commercial fishing boom and offshore oil discoveries have intensified the sovereignty dispute over the South Atlantic archipelago. Scholarly literature on the South Atlantic focuses primarily on military history of the 1982 conflict. However, contested claims over natural resources have now made this disputed territory a critical site for examining the wider relationship between imperial sovereignty and environmental governance.

Dr. Blair argues that by claiming self-determination and consenting to British sovereignty, the Falkland Islanders have crafted a settler colonial protectorate to extract resources and extend empire in the South Atlantic. Responding to current debates in environmental anthropology, critical geography, Atlantic history, political ecology, and science and technology studies, Dr. Blair describes how settlers have asserted indigeneity in dynamic relation with the environment. Salvaging Empire uncovers the South Atlantic's outsized importance for understanding the broader implications of resource management and environmental science for the geopolitics of empire.

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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