The Proletarian Lung fighting waste colonialism in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Since the collapse of socialism, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the target of predatory international capital and local nationalist aspirations to extract profit, in perpetuity, from the natural and human resources of the country. Under so-called ‘waste colonialism’, these nationalists are ‘weaponizing’ pollution to exacerbate poverty. Waste colonialism leaves toxic waste, buried in hidden sites, in the wake of the asset-stripping of factories. This now poisons water, air, and soil, rendering communities expendable, desensitized, and vulnerable to market exploitation. Contaminated water, air, and soil cannot nurture life. Populations are either trapped into accepting they have no alternative, or opt for migration.
This project asks: how can the connections between struggles for environmental justice make visible the inseparability of environmental instability, finance capital, violence, and power? In exploring these connection, how can the affected communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina equip themselves to fight waste colonialism?
Damir Arsenijević is a Professor of Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a literary theorist and psychoanalyst in training. In early 2019, he set up the working group “Zemlja, voda, zrak” (“Earth, Water, Air”) through which young people can work together to articulate and enact demands for environmental justice in Bosnia and Herzegovina.