The Whites Are Enemies of Heaven

Climate Caucasianism and Asian Ecological Protection

Book Pages: 384 Illustrations: 22 illustrations Published: January 2021

Asian Studies > East Asia, Globalization and Neoliberalism, Theory and Philosophy > Postcolonial Theory

In The Whites Are Enemies of Heaven Mark W. Driscoll examines nineteenth-century Western imperialism in Asia and the devastating effects of "climate caucasianism"—the white West's pursuit of rapacious extraction at the expense of natural environments and people of color conflated with them. Drawing on an array of primary sources in Chinese, Japanese, and French, Driscoll reframes the Opium Wars as "wars for drugs" and demonstrates that these wars to unleash narco- and human traffickers kickstarted the most important event of the Anthropocene: the military substitution of Qing China's world-leading carbon-neutral economy for an unsustainable Anglo-American capitalism powered by coal. Driscoll also reveals how subaltern actors, including outlaw societies and dispossessed samurai groups, became ecological protectors, defending their locales while driving decolonization in Japan and overthrowing a millennia of dynastic rule in China. Driscoll contends that the methods of these protectors resonate with contemporary Indigenous-led movements for environmental justice.


“Mark W. Driscoll dazzlingly argues that at the origin of the Anthropocene lies the predatory behavior of European colonialism in East Asia—what he daringly terms "climate caucasianism", a historically unprecedented assemblage of extraction, coloniality, ecological devastation, commerce, and war. Driscoll's exquisite and brilliant scholarship demonstrates a simultaneous mastery of Chinese and Japanese languages, cultures, and histories. The Whites Are Enemies of Heaven should be of immediate interest to students in all those fields wishing to understand the multiple entanglements of imperialism, colonialism, ontology, and resistance that underlie the complex assemblage called climate change.” — Arturo Escobar, author of Pluriversal Politics: The Real and the Possible

“Mark W. Driscoll's The Whites Are Enemies of Heaven is an ambitious and original study of Japanese and Chinese resistance to Euro-American imperialism. Beyond his compelling focus on race and racism—which rarely get the explicit attention they deserve in East Asian studies—Driscoll turns to Marxism, postcolonial theory, and ecocriticism to analyze global histories of extractive capitalism and drug production in this wide-ranging and thrilling analysis. There is no other book like this!” — Teemu Ruskola, author of Legal Orientalism: China, the United States, and Modern Law


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Mark W. Driscoll is Professor of East Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is author of Absolute Erotic, Absolute Grotesque: The Living, Dead, and Undead in Japanese Imperialism, 1895–1945, and the editor and translator of "Kannani" and "Document of Flames": Two Japanese Colonial Novels, both also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface and Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction. The Speed Race(r) and the Stopped, Incarce-Races  xiii
1. J-hād against "Gorge-Us" White Men  47
2. Ecclesiastical Superpredators  85
Intertext I. White Dude's Burden (The Indifference That Makes a Difference)  131
3. Queer Parenting  137
4. Levelry and Revelry (Inside the Gelaohui Opium Room)  171
Intertext II. Madame Butterfly and "Negro Methods" in China  209
5. Last Samurai/First Extractive Capitalist  223
6. Blow (Opium Smoke) back: The Third War for Drugs in Sichuan  255
Conclusion. "Undermining" China and Beyond Climate Caucasianism  299
Notes  311
Bibliography  325
Index  353
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Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-1121-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-1016-6