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Varieties of Encroachment

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Varieties of Encroachment
Encroachment of sociopolitical space
Encroachment of economic space
Military-Industrial encroachment
Encroachment of psycho-cultural space
Encroachment of intrpersonal space
Temporal encroachment
Structural encroachment

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Annex to Errorism vs Terrorism? Encroachment, Complicity, Denial and Terraism (2004)


The following clusters of examples illustrate the generality of encroachment as a process. The equivalence between the various strategies of encroachment is discussed in the main article.

Encroachment of bio-physical space
-- Territorial encroachment
-- Environmental encroachment
Encroachment of socio-political space
-- Group encroachment
-- Political encroachment
-- Legal and government encroachment
Encroachment of economic space
-- Encroachment of commercial space
-- Encroachment of profit-making
Military-industrial encroachment
-- Industrial encroachment
-- Military encroachment
-- Encroachment of technology
Encroachment of psycho-cultural space
-- Communication encroachment
-- Encroachment of knowledge space
-- Ideological encroachment
-- Encroachment of symbolic space
Encroachment of inter-personal space
-- Encroachment of behavioural space
-- Encroachment of personal space
-- Sexual encroachment
Temporal encroachment
Structural encroachment
-- Conceptual violence
-- Spiritual violence


In this draft relatively little attention has been given to distinguishing between "encroachment by xxxx" in contrast with "encroachment of yyyy", "encroachment on yyyy" -- which may be highly significant in some cases. The different meanings tend to be indicated here in the same cluster.

Encroachment of biophysical space

Territorial encroachment

The following cases focus primarily on land and property defined by fixed boundaries:

  • Encroachment across "national" territorial boundaries: Throughout human history there are numerous examples of one people encroaching on the territory of others. Territorial encroachment has often been fundamental to the foreign policies of countries: Russia's recent concern at the encroachment of NATO [more], Britain's concern in the 1900s at the encroachment of the Boers on neighbouring lands in southern Africa, the unwanted foreign encroachment experienced by China (including Russian encroachment into Manchuria, 1899-1900), etc (see also June Teufel Dreyer, Encroaching On the Middle Kingdom? China's View of Its Place in the World 2002) . In international law the principle of non-intervention between states specifically excludes all kinds of territorial encroachment, including temporary or limited operations (so-called "in-and-out operations"). Anytime one nation attacks another without direct provocation, the attacking nation is guilty of territorial encroachment, thus transgressing all international law.
  • Encroachment on lands of indigenous peoples: Historically it is apparent that indigenous peoples were exposed to the most blatant forms of territorial encroachment, culminating in colonialism. Where the land was relatively unpopulated, the indigenous population often only became aware of the negative consequences after the settlers had effectively taken possession of the land. The problem was exacerbated in those cases where the settlers claimed ownership under a particular legal conception, whereas the indigenous population do not. The progressive encroachment on Native American lands by Europeans, and their subsequent restriction to reservations, offers a striking example. The process continues in Latin America and notably with respect to the indigenous peoples in the Amazon basin with the Latin American Association for Human Rights estimating that half of Colombia's indigenous tribes face extinction because of the encroaching violence [more].The encroachment process is legitimated and exacerbated by economic arguments in support of mining, logging, the need for transportation networks, construction of large dams (causing flooding of large areas). In promoting national development through trade liberalization, structural adjustment and the promotion of foreign direct investment, the World Bank routinely advises countries to rewrite national mining codes to facilitate large-scale mining by foreign companies. These revised mining codes are been pushed through without the participation of indigenous peoples and without taking into account the interests and rights of indigenous peoples [more]. In the Middle East the IDF is understood to be encroaching on Palestinian Authority territory as a tactical measure to provide better security to its forces and Jewish residents [more]. The International Red Cross has condemned Israel's "Wall" as encroaching on the West Bank territory of Palestine [more]. Others suggest that it is Palestinians who are encroaching on Israeli territory, not the other way round [more]. However the series of enclaves created by the Wall is also seen as emasculating Palestinians in their fight for land against the ever-encroaching Jewish settlements [more]
  • Encroachment on neighbouring property: This the extension of any building, improvement or structure located on one property (such as a wall, fence or driveway) across a boundary line and onto adjoining property. Many have been exposed to this form of encroachment, whether through occupation of common frontage by a neighbour, growth or construction (or moving) of dividing fences to the disadvantage of one neighbour, disposal of rubbish such as to affect a neighbour, noisiness (power tools, music, etc) affecting a neighbour, constraints on rights of access, obstruction of "ancient lights" (such as by the growth of separating hedges), etc. The encroachment may be purely visual, as when one neighbour prefers a degree of nudity in their garden that is shocking to neighbours exposed to it, or exposure to treatment of animals, or to odours generated by cooking or animal husbandry. Encroachment by roots under boundary walls may also be a nuisance and cause damage.
  • Encroachment by squatters: The progressive occupation of a property by squatters may be undertaken in such a way that, even legally, it becomes difficult to evict them.
  • Encroachment by "travellers": People with a primarily nomadic lifestyle (such as gypsies) may temporarily occupy common land, or other property, in ways that come to be experienced by the inhabitants as encroachment. The issue may be less the use of the land and more the infiltration of the community by quite different standards of behaviour.
  • Encroachment of government land: Such land encroachment (notably into national park areas) may be undertaken by native peoples, graziers, miners, slum-dwellers and others with vested interests. This may include the elites of a country.
  • Encroachment by refugees: People forced (or choosing) to move from distant locations may occupy land (or take up employment) in such a way as to be experienced as encroachment by the original inhabitants -- however well-intentioned the latter in offering asylum (as in the case of Norway).
  • Game simulation of territorial encroachment: Throughout world history, the two most popular territorial games are the chess of the Western world, and the wei ch'i of the East -- known in the West as the Japanese game of "go". These exemplify the two basic approaches to this category of games. Chess portrays the clash on a specific battle between two opposing armies. Wei Ch'i is a metaphorical expression of a war between two countries and involves broader strategic considerations of territorial encroachment. Go has a greater emphasis on sacrifice than chess; it is often the case in go that sacrifices, when part of a bigger plan, forms an important part of the strategy.

Environmental encroachment

The process in this case is often justified by the urgency of favouring "jobs" (or "industry", "shelter", etc) over "environment":

  • Urban encroachment on greenbelts: This process is typical of so-called "green-field" "development" endeavouring to acquire space for housing, factory or highway construction. It may be preceded by re-zoning (where the rule of law is respected), but also occurs through uncontrolled construction of slum-style dwellings on the outskirts of towns which may have been formally declared to be greenbelt zones. Trees lining rural roads (as in France) may be removed with the argument that they are the cause of fatal accidents by drunken or speeding drivers.
  • Encroachment on urban parkland, gardens and trees: Regulations governing greenery in cities may be progressively modified in ways that ensure the removal of trees, and the environmental degradation (or elimination) of gardens. Trees beyond the fences of sensitive sites (airports, power stations, etc) may be removed to prevent their use as cover by terrorists.
  • Encroachment on wilderness areas: Nature was for hundreds of thousands of years an enemy to encroaching man. Encroachment on nature and wilderness habitats is now typified by the development of tourism in the form of walkers needing networks of paths and the needs of all-terrain drivers for challenging countryside(on which to test their vehicles and driving skills). Encroachment may also be justified by the need to generate energy through the construction of dams or wind farms, or the draining of lakes. The visionary sense of many of the great nature poets, valued the momentary epiphanies of place and object world as are rare events, to be preserved over against the encroaching destruction of nature as well as the alienating features of city or man-made environment -- making its beauty hard to apprehend.
  • Encroachment on forestland: The issue of forestland encroachment and its consequent impact has been debated at all levels -- national and international. While the pro-encroachment lobby nationalizes encroachment of forest land on the basis of tribal land rights issues, livelihood and subsistence needs argument, the anti encroachment lobby points out the massive deforestation and accompanying degradation and its implications on the ecological stability.[more]
  • Encroachment through pollution: The widely-reported insidious increase in the level of pollutants in the environment requires no comment concerning their encroachment on the ecosystems and their consequent degradation or loss of viability.
  • Desert encroachment: ****
  • Salt-water encroachment: ****
  • Flood plain encroachment: This concerns the encroachment by development into plains that may be flooded very infrequently. [more]
  • Bush encroachment: Bush encroachment affects the agricultural productivity and biodiversity of certain regions, notably southern Africa. Bush encroachment occurs in many arid regions where fuel loads are insufficient for fires to be an important causal factor. Trees will outcompete grasses and bush encroachment will result with current trends in carbon dioxide emissions exacerbating shifts from grass to woody plant domination [more]
  • Encroachment through species introduction: The encroachment of invasive alien species eroding natural ecosystem is illustrated by classic cases such as the innocent introduction of rabbits into Australia and the subsequent need to engage in extremely violent and inhumane efforts to exterminate them. The introduction of genetically modified species illustrates the related danger in the case of traditional crops being progressively constrained by the modified species with unforeseen results.
  • Encroachment by wild animal groups: Animals living in groups tend to control a geographic area, which is to say that de facto, the alpha male and his allies own the geographic area. They defend their territory from encroachment and seek to encroach upon surrounding territories. Encroachment involves periodic stealthy forays into surrounding territory for the purpose of isolating and killing an individual from another group.
  • Smoking: This familiar case highlights the nature of the behavioural context in which smoking initially appears to be a totally innocent activity. However, with the accumulation of the incidence of smoking, not only is an unpleasant environment created because of the smoke-filled air but the health hazards associated with (passive) smoking gradually become apparent. The challenge for the non-smoker regarding when, where and how to say "no" are also evident.

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