Green Violence: Market-Driven Conservation and the Reforeignization of Space in Laikipia, Kenya

Recent years have witnessed an upsurge in violent conflict occurring on private wildlife conservancies owned by white settlers in Laikipia, Kenya. Much of the conflict has ensued between transhumance pastoralists and conservancy personnel, when pastoralists invade conservancies to access privately owned pasture and water for their livestock. The frequency and intensity of violent conflict increased noticeably in 2017, sparking debate in civil society about what specifically was fueling violent encounters between pastoralists and conservationists. This chapter documents and builds on this debate, analyzing the contentious land politics that surround wildlife conservation in Laikipia using the concept of green violence. By adapting the concept of green violence so that it affords explicit consideration for the subtle ways that violence unfolds both across time and in the context of people’s day-to-day lives, this chapter argues that violent conflict occurring on private wildlife conservancies can be understood as a delayed effect of settler colonialism. In other words, this chapter demonstrates that violent encounters between pastoralists and conservationists occur in part because private wildlife conservancies in Laikipia perpetuate structural forms of violence rooted in racialized dispossession. This chapter is based on 10 months of fieldwork in Laikipia carried out between 2014 and 2017.