Climate crises and crypto-colonialism: conjuring value on the blockchain frontiers of the Global South

Howson, P. ORCID: 0000-0002-3731-2775, 2020. Climate crises and crypto-colonialism: conjuring value on the blockchain frontiers of the Global South. Frontiers in Blockchain, 3: 22. ISSN 2624-7852

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This commentary explores how climate crises are used to justify ‘crypto-colonialism’, whereby blockchain technology is used to extract economic benefits from those suffering the scars of historic colonial expansion in the Global South. These benefits include land, labour, data and other resources needed to facilitate capital interests elsewhere. As with past neoliberal development agendas imposing structural economic reforms, the contemporary crypto-colonial exercises discussed here are driven in pursuit of a common good – to protect the global commons and improve people’s lives. The paper explores how investors are drawn to the sustainable development frontiers – the code/spaces where crypto-colonial conjuring manifests. Blockchain is implicated within crypto-colonialism in three ways. Firstly, it plays into ongoing narratives of ‘green grabbing’, where local claims to resources are liquidated for green investments. Secondly, the technology perpetuates North-South trade and investment inequalities, and thirdly, a new power asymmetry is enabled by the technology through data colonialism and surveillance capitalism. In reviewing the spaces where crypto-colonialism manifests, the paper argues that despite being distributed, techno-ecological fixes are never placeless. How people configure, use, and are impacted by blockchain platforms is geographically contingent.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Frontiers in Blockchain
Creators: Howson, P.
Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
Date: 2020
Volume: 3
ISSN: 2624-7852
Rights: Copyright © 2020 Howson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Jill Tomkinson
Date Added: 23 Apr 2020 09:47
Last Modified: 21 May 2020 09:08

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