Environmental Violence - An analysis of Uzbekistan's Aral Sea Crisis

EPA Grant Number: U915579
Title: Environmental Violence - An analysis of Uzbekistan's Aral Sea Crisis
Investigators: Lange, Keely O.
Institution: University of Notre Dame
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: January 1, 1999 through July 16, 2002
Project Amount: $68,796
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Social Sciences , Environmental Justice , Academic Fellowships


The objective of this research project is to focus on the national security level of environmental violence—a new concept I will introduce—and test it against the case of the national security response of Uzbekistan to the dessication of the Aral Sea. As previously unacknowledged or underfunded crises (e.g., environmental catastrophes) move onto national security agendas, the resources to address this concern may finally be made available. Additionally, both theory and policy communities must have the tools to match the new reality of these other issues on the national security agenda.


I am developing a framework for analyzing security issues in terms of thresholds of violence. This framework will organize and synthesize the theoretical literature on security and violence. It also will provide a coherent, policy-relevant context for analyzing environmental and other forms of violence; for example, crises ranging from international security responses, to global climate change, to local reactions, to the pollution of lakes and rivers. This framework shows the connections between different types of violence and various levels of security. These various levels of security (individual, local, state, etc.) answer the question: what is being secured? When this has been identified, criteria relevant to that level (the "referent") can be collected, and security thresholds can be established or analyzed. From what are the referents being secured? This is answered by the typological or sectoral approach to violence. Violence describes the nature of the threat, but security, as per Wolfers (1962), measures the extent of the threat.

I will gather the information necessary to execute this project in two ways. First, the theoretical literature must be surveyed to provide a definitional as well as theoretical basis for analysis. Second, I will conduct field research and secure interviews and documents to examine the process and the criteria used in the Uzbek government's securitization of the Aral Sea crisis. I will analyze this empirical data and compare it with my findings from the literature to construct a framework for the national security threshold of environmental violence. The framework and the criteria for the environmental sector will allow me to suggest avenues of inference for future research in other sectors of violence and other levels of analysis.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, environmental violence, Uzbekistan, Aral Sea, national security, violence, security issues, international security responses.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1999
  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final