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

STEVEN SCHWARTZ, then a graduate student at University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, was awarded funding in April 2018 to aid research on “Lifeworlds of Extraction: Wind Energy and Indigeneity in the Guajira,” supervised by Dr. Justin Richland. This project examined how indigenous Wayúu communities and energy corporations experience the rise of 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 and culturally driven development interventions, 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. This research inquired how the transition to wind farming is taking place – how it is rearranging the everyday lives of indigenous and corporate actors through their interactions, and how notions of Wayúu identity and corporate forms of social relations are being mutually transformed and re-evaluated. By examining the emergence of wind farms, the researcher gained a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and political dimensions of energy transitions as experienced by indigenous communities and energy corporations in Colombia. The project draws on 12 months of ethnographic field research, observing existent and future wind farms and interacting with Wayúu communities, staff members of energy corporations, and indigenous organizations protesting the expansion wind power in the Guajira.


Schwartz, Steven. 2021. “Wind Extraction? Gifts, Reciprocity, and Renewability in Colombia’s Energy Frontier,” Economic Anthropology 8 (1): 116-132,