Interrupting "Green Capital": transformative political practice at the frontiers of wind energy in Mexico Public Deposited

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Last Modified
  • March 21, 2019
Creator
  • Sellwood, Scott Allan
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Geography
Abstract
  • This thesis examines how contestations over the large-scale production of wind energy are transforming political life in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico. In the 1980s, the Mexican state and international actors targeted the Isthmus as a place for investing in green energy development. Today, wind farms occupy between 10,000 and 15,000 hectares, but could extend to between 40,000 and 50,000 hectares if the 'full' wind energy potential of the Isthmus is developed. Indigenous social movements are interrupting this `greening' of the Isthmus, however, sustaining that the expansion of green energy, despite its associations with the greater ecological good, is detrimental to their survival. How is the harnessing of wind in the Isthmus becoming a new frontier of green capitalism? And how are indigenous movements reshaping the practices of green energy in Mexico? I examine these questions through the case study of indigenous-led resistance to the construction of a large-scale wind energy project in the southern Isthmus: the San Dionisio project along the Barra de Santa Teresa. As the Mexican government pursues green energy, the Isthmus is re-signified as an environmentally responsible space of liberal peace. Drawing on participant observation, interviews with NGOs and local residents, and analysis of environmental and energy policy documents, I argue that this is a virtual peace, one that makes invisible the character, agency, and needs of civil society actors. By framing resistance to wind farming as the cause of conflicts to be managed for the greater common good, state-sanctioned `pacification' of the Isthmus entrenches short-term direct violence and structural violence as constitutive of green capitalism.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Valdivia, Gabriela
Degree
  • Master of Arts
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2014
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