Accepted Paper:

Wind power: how debates about wind farms can enhance anthropological understandings of power and influence  


Louise Rebecca Senior (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focuses on the dialogue that occurs within and between groups who are talking about wind energy in Highland Scotland. I argue that the mutually constitutive character of both pro- and anti-wind farm positions can inform our understanding of how power functions on an everyday basis.

Paper long abstract:

The Scottish Government has committed to generating an equivalent of 100% of Scotland's electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020, with onshore wind currently accounting for over half of installed renewable capacity. Yet, with almost every new onshore wind farm development proposed, opposition to the technology appears to grow and arguments regarding the legitimacy of their place in Scotland rages on.

Using data collected during twelve months of ethnographic fieldwork undertaken in the far north of Scotland, I argue that attention to the varying discourses present in such debates, how they are produced and how they are negotiated provides a compelling narrative on how power, resistance, environments and selves continually emerge through a process of dialogue.

I describe a series of interconnected arguments which draw on themes as diverse as climate change, art and imagery, economics and employment, and historical legacies which different groups have used to validate their own position or undermine another's position in relation to wind farms. How people depict locally experienced wind farms as part of a larger regional or global environment offers a unique perspective on how people conceptualise scale, how they comprehend their location within varied scales, and to what extent and why they value particular connections and relationships that link them with other people and places across the scale. The way people draw on these connections, either to strengthen or negate them, is one way of exploring how power is gained, maintained or altered through interaction and how inequality is created and perpetuated.

Panel P078
Ubiquitous energy: everyday energy rhythms, practices and experiences