Second Biennial Conference of the Political Ecology Network (POLLEN)
Oslo and Akershus University College, Norway, 20–22 June 2018
Green Energy and Politics in Latin America
ABSTRACT DEADLINE: December 11, 2017
Conveners: Gustav Cederlöf (King’s College London) and Cornelia Helmcke (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)
This panel takes foothold in four observations. First, while integral to cultural ecology and the early development of political ecology, energy has received little attention from political ecologists (Cederlöf 2015; Huber 2015). Second, when energy has been a concern in the Latin American context, it has largely taken the form of carbon-based resources. Political ecologists have then studied social mobilisation, sector nationalisation, and claims of descolonización in relation to oil and gas extraction in the Amazon (Sawyer 2004; Perreault and Valdivia 2010). Third, the impacts of efforts to lower or offset the circulation of carbon-based energy in the North are gradually displaced to energy landscapes in Latin America, leading to a global redistribution of resources and risk (Borras Jr. et al. 2012; Hornborg 2016). Finally, the production of ‘green energy’ and initiatives to decarbonise energy use are frequently defined as drivers of Latin American development today – regionally, nationally, and locally (McNeish et al. 2015; Howe and Boyer 2016). Such processes of green energy production, distribution, and consumption are situated in historically-rooted politicised environments where they reconfigure circuits of state power, open new spaces for capital circulation and subaltern agency, even as they reinforce or challenge social and economic inequalities. This panel explores how the tools of political ecology allow us to better understand the phenomenon of ‘green energy’ in Latin America, focusing on questions including, but not limited to:
- How do political, economic, and civil-society actors in Latin America use ‘green energy’ narratives to legitimise, negotiate, and contest energy politics?
- Does ‘green energy’ have the potential to strengthen democratic politics in the region and lead to more sustainable modes of human-nature interaction?
- How do notions of ‘energy’ in Latin America challenge our understanding of political ecology as a field concerned with human-nature interaction?
Borras Jr., S. M., J. C. Franco, S. Gómez, C. Kay, and M. Spoor. 2012. Land Grabbing in Latin America and the Caribbean. Journal of Peasant Studies 39: 845–872.
Cederlöf, G. 2015. Thermodynamics Revisited: The Political Ecology of Energy Systems in Historical Perspective. In International Handbook of Political Ecology, ed. R. L. Bryant, 646–658. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham.
Hornborg, A. 2016. Global Magic: Technologies of Appropriation from Ancient Rome to Wall Street. Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke.
Howe, C. and D. Boyer. 2016. Aeolian Extractivism and Community Wind in Southern Mexico. Public Culture 28: 215–235.
Huber, M. 2015. Energy and Social Power. In Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology, eds. T. Perreault, G. Bridge, and J. McCarthy, 481–492. Routledge, Abingdon.
McNeish, J. A., A. Borchgrevink, and O. Logan (eds.). 2015. Contested Powers: The Politics of Energy and Development in Latin America. Zed, London.
Perreault, T. and G. Valdivia. 2010. Hydrocarbons, Popular Protest and National Imaginaries: Ecuador and Bolivia in Comparative Context. Geoforum 41: 689–699.
Sawyer, S. 2004. Crude Chronicles: Indigenous Politics, Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism in Ecuador. Duke University Press, Durham NC.