"Traces of an exploration" an ethnographic approach to the production of geothermal energy futures in the Chilean Andes Mountains
Martin Fonck (University of Munich)
Paper short abstract:
This presentation addresses the ruins of geothermal explorations in Andes Mountains as traces from an ethnographic perspective. Crossing different regimes of visibility and invisibility, traces have the power to activate diverse trajectories, to interrupt and destabilize geothermal energy futures.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation is about historical traces and ruins of geothermal explorations in Andes Mountains. From the beginning of the twentieth century, scientific explorations began to imagine the futures of geothermal energy in the Andes. Ascending to an altitude of 4,200 meters towards the geysers field "el Tatio" in the Atacama Desert, scientist imagined transforming geological phenomena into electrical energy. The imagination of these energy futures has been reactivated on many occasions. Under the context of climate change, it has emerged as a potentially sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. However, the exploration of its potential has failed, leaving not only drilling wells and machinery in the middle of the geyser field but also images, memories and conflicts with indigenous communities because of the steam column explosions. The traces of these explorations are composed by drilling wells infrastructures and steam columns explosions provoke by the geothermal perforations. The following work aims to address the ruins of these explorations as traces from an ethnographic perspective. The abandonment of infrastructures as drilling wells and machinery to translate geological phenomena into geothermal resources point out the failures of technologies, imaginaries and state policies. In the presentation, we want to discuss the temporality of these exploration's traces. Rather than just pointing out a nostalgic and closed historical past, the traces have the constant capacity to produce the temporalities of their failures. Crossing different regimes of visibility and invisibility, traces have the power to activate diverse trajectories, interrupting and destabilizing geothermal energy futures.
Knowing Historical Traces, Eliciting Possible Futures