Wind and Power in the Anthropocene


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Energopolitics is one half of the duograph Wind and Power in the Anthropocene, along with Ecologics.
Book Pages: 280 Illustrations: 35 illustrations Published: July 2019

Author: Dominic Boyer

Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Latin American Studies

Between 2009 and 2013 Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer conducted fieldwork in Mexico's Isthmus of Tehuantepec to examine the political, social, and ecological dimensions of moving from fossil fuels to wind power. Their work manifested itself as a new ethnographic form: the duograph—a combination of two single-authored books that draw on shared fieldsites, archives, and encounters that can be productively read together, yet can also stand alone in their analytic ambitions.

In his volume, Energopolitics, Boyer examines the politics of wind power and how it is shaped by myriad factors, from the legacies of settler colonialism and indigenous resistance to state bureaucracy and corporate investment. Drawing on interviews with activists, campesinos, engineers, bureaucrats, politicians, and bankers, Boyer outlines the fundamental impact of energy and fuel on political power. Boyer also demonstrates how large conceptual frameworks cannot adequately explain the fraught and uniquely complicated conditions on the isthmus, illustrating the need to resist narratives of anthropocenic universalism and to attend to local particularities.


"Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; professionals." — L. L. Johnson, Choice

"Howe and Boyer look back on the past with fresh eyes. . . . Howe and Boyer’s project has many virtues. For one, it articulates the perils of corporate wind economies. For another, it positions Indigenous communities (like the Zapotec) not as outmoded objects for anthropological inquiry, but (á la Gayatri Spivak) as 'active [producers] of culture.' Most importantly, perhaps, is how Wind and Power in the Anthropocene documents alternatives to corporate wind ventures like Mareña. The book highlights, for example, community-based initiatives that also seek to harness the awesome power of istmeño wind—projects that promote communal welfare and environmental justice." — Stacey Balkan, Public Books

"The duograph is an interesting and novel way to approach collaborative writing, which I enjoyed engaging with. . . . Energopolitics elegantly brings together political theory and ethnography. — Anna G. Sveinsdóttir, Journal of Latin American Geography

“In Wind and Power in the Anthropocene, a two-volume ‘duograph,’ Cymene Howe, in Ecologics, and Dominic Boyer, in Energopolitics, explore the development of wind parks during the early twenty-first century on the isthmus of Tehuantepec…. One of the most refreshing components of their collaborative and individual writing is the clarity of their position as researchers in this project as they circulated among politicians, indigenous peoples, and corporate officials. It is a necessary exercise, as they argue, for appreciating the entrenchment of the wind in local political and social relations.”

— Nathan Kapoor, Technology and Culture

“Boyer’s book seeks ways around human-centered notions of politics.... More important than his theoretical discussion is his contention that in order to understand aeolian politics in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, one must attend to situated, historical processes with which transitions to renewable energy become intimately entangled.” — Chakad Ojani, Anthropology Book Forum

"Dominic Boyer's Energopolitics is a deep immersion in the prosaics and practices of life in the Anthropocene and the prospect of transitions to low-carbon futures. Boyer exposes this transition in all of its messiness, its contradictions, and its potentialities. Contemporary aeolian politics on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec demands what Boyer calls the conceptual minima of capital, biopower, and energopower with the ethnographic maxima of contested history of land tenure, boss politics, and heterogeneous opposition movements; the phantasmatic status of state sovereignty, clientelist networks, and corporatist machinations of the Mexican political parties; a flailing petrostate confronting global climate change; and a vulnerable parastatal electricity utility. Find a chair, settle in, hold on tight, and enjoy." — Michael Watts, Class of 63 Professor, University of California, Berkeley

“Any serious discussion of politics in the Anthropocene must account for the relationship between energy and power. Dominic Boyer's rich ethnography of wind power development in southern Mexico does foundational work in precisely this, not only offering a fine-grained description of the complex and conflicted local politics of renewable energy transformation on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec but also articulating a new conceptual framework for making sense of power. Energopolitics is chastening, revelatory, and essential.” — Roy Scranton, author of We’re Doomed. Now What? Essays on War and Climate Change


Availability: In stock
Price: $26.95
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Dominic Boyer is Professor of Anthropology at Rice University, Founding Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences (CENHS), and author of The Life Informatic: Newsmaking in the Digital Era. Energopolitics is one half of the duograph Wind and Power in the Anthropocene; Ecologics, by Cymene Howe, is the other half.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Joint Preface to Wind and Power in the Anthropocene / Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer  ix
Acknowledgments  xix
Introduction  1
1. Ixtepec  27
2. La Ventosa  60
3. Oaxaca de Juaréz  95
4. Distrito Federal  127
5. Guidxiguie' (Juchitán de Zaragoza)  158
Joint Conclusion to Wind and Power in the Anthropocene / Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer 194
Notes  199
References  225
Index  251
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0377-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0313-7
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Funding Information

This title is freely available in an open access edition thanks to generous support from the Fondren Library at Rice Univesity.