Steven Schwartz

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Chicago, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9653

Approve Date

April 16, 2018

Project Title

Schwartz, Steven D., U. of Chicago, Chicago, IL - To aid research on 'Lifeworlds of Extraction: Wind Energy and Indigeneity in the Guajira,' supervised by Dr. Justin Richland

Preliminary abstract: This project investigates how indigenous Wayúu communities and transnational energy corporations experience the transition from fossil fuels to wind farming in the Guajira–an arid, resource-rich, yet severely impoverished region along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Although wind farming draws on discourses of ‘clean’ energy (Scheer 2012) and culturally-driven development interventions (Engle 2010), for many indigenous actors the expansion of wind energy infrastructure anticipates a wave of land privatization, social conflicts, and corporate control over energy resources with limited to no local benefits. My research asks how the transition to wind farms is taking place–particularly, how it is rearranging the everyday lives of indigenous and corporate actors through their interactions; what promises and risks this more ‘harmonious’ relation entails for both the Wayúu and extractive companies; and how notions of Wayúu identity and corporate forms of social relations are mutually transformed and re-evaluated. By examining the emergence of wind parks, I seek to gain a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and political dimensions of energy transitions as experienced by indigenous communities and energy corporations in the Global South. To do so, I will undertake 12 months of ethnographic field research, observing existent and projected wind parks and interacting with Wayúu communities, staff members of energy corporations, and indigenous organizations protesting the expansion wind power in the Guajira. My research draws on scholarship on energy and the politics of resource extraction; capitalism and value; and indigeneity and indigenous rights.