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The politics of wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec: wind, land and social difference

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posted on 2023-06-09, 22:19 authored by Gerardo Torres ContrerasGerardo Torres Contreras
This dissertation examines the following research question: how, why and by whom is wind energy contested in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico? By comparing the two biggest wind farms in Latin America, Eurus and Eólica del Sur, the dissertation sheds light on the politics of wind energy that arise at the local level in Mexico as a result of wind energy investments. The goal of this research is to contribute with a nuanced account on green energy transitions by emphasising the analytical relevance of the wind-land-energy nexus as wind energy investments expand in the Global South. By drawing on ethnographic methods and over 80 interviews, the dissertation argues that the political and social dynamics of opposition to and support for wind energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec can be found across three dimensions: land tenure context, indigenous identity and the politics of benefit distribution. The first dimension refers to the different standpoints vis-à-vis wind energy that are generated because of contrasting landownership systems in the region. Indigenous identity makes reference to the idea that one of the reasons that motivate reactions for or against wind energy is whether individuals or groups consider themselves indigenous. Finally, the third dimension refers to the winners and losers resulting from wind energy expansion according to local-based histories of extracivism, exclusion and dispossession. The earthquakes that shook the region in September 2017 and the subsequent relief efforts act as a moment of rupture in wind energy development by affecting the three dimensions of support or opposition to wind power. While bearing in mind that the reconstruction process will take at least a decade to be finalised in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the research seeks to answer how the three dimensions might reconfigure contestation to wind energy after the disaster.


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