Accepted paper:

Conflicting sustainability: poetics and politics of the wind in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico


Francesco Zanotelli (University of Messina)

Paper short abstract:

Wind-farm transnational industry sponsors the renewable energy transition through the governance of meteorological elements. For Ikoots people of Southern Mexico it means a threat to their political autonomy as indigenous citizens and the moral disorder in their relationship with non-humans.

Paper long abstract:

The aim of the paper is to present an ethnographic account of the struggle of the Indigenous Ikojts of the municipality of San Dionisio del Mar (Southern Mexico), against the proposed construction of an enormous wind-farm in the lagoons and in the communal lands they inhabit. The first outcome of this struggle has been the abandonment of the project of the multinational corporation in 2012, soon after the pronouncement of the regional court in favor of the indigenous right to reach an informed consent. Beyond the contingency, this case highlights some contradictory processes. On one side, the study of documentary sources shows that the production of "green" energy is supported by an hegemonic poetic based on technology and on the universality of ecology. However, the ethnographic analysis shows that behind such unity the search for consensus is based instead on methods like misinformation, bribes, violence and the community fragmentation. The questions that this case raises are even more ambiguous regarding the concept of sustainability, as both parties to the conflict are appealing to environmental sustainability to support their reasons. Renewable energy industries look for a short-term kind of sustainability, as they invest for immediate and high level profits, even if they claim to work for a global, common benefit; instead, Ikojts are fighting for a long-term environmental sustainability, because for them this concept is linked to the renewability of the life-cycle that is based on non-human beings (fish, rain, crop) and the moral relations that humans establish with them.

panel P06
Energy citizenships and prospects for low carbon democracy