Wind and Power in the Anthropocene


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Ecologics is one half of the duograph Wind and Power in the Anthropocene, along with Energopolitics.
Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 52 illustrations Published: July 2019

Author: Cymene Howe

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 her volume, Ecologics, Howe narrates how an antidote to the Anthropocene became both failure and success. Tracking the development of what would have been Latin America's largest wind park, Howe documents indigenous people's resistance to the project and the political and corporate climate that derailed its renewable energy potential. Using feminist and more-than-human theories, Howe demonstrates how the dynamics of energy and environment cannot be captured without understanding how human aspirations for energy articulate with nonhuman beings, technomaterial objects, and the geophysical forces that are at the heart of wind and power.


"Research included interviews carried out with key representatives of international, national, regional, and local interests, supporting a richly nuanced account of often emotionally charged encounters. Howe balances multiple viewpoints, ranging from those gained though formal appointments and official press conferences in Mexico City to those observed in restaurant meetings and confrontations between protesters and police on the Isthmus. The chapters oscillate between chronological telling of events—from wind power anticipated, to the project interrupted and ultimately suspended—and consideration of three other-than-human forces that played key roles in the unfolding of events: wind, trucks, and species. Recommended. All readers." — C. Hendrickson, 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. . . . Howe discusses, through her vivid writing style, what happens when distinct imaginaries of environmental care and environmental harm come into conflict, examining how wind energy—an antidote to the Anthropocene—became both failure and success." — 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

“Witty, surprising, and exuding the talent of storytelling, this book about wind and power makes the reader feel the force and complexity of both. It also details a lesson for these permanently changing times: there is no good Anthropocene. The alternative materiality of energy (wind instead of fossil fuel, for example) will not reverse climate change, for nothing is renewable in itself. Instead, wind as renewable energy is a political possibility as people become with wind and occupy place as well as the relation that corporate might uses to make wind a commodity.” — Marisol de la Cadena, author of Earth Beings: Ecologies of Practice across Andean Worlds

“All of the apocalyptic rhetoric about the ‘end of the world’ dangerously obscures the fact that ecological politics will and must continue. In this rich study Cymene Howe shows exactly why anthropology is central to the study of the Anthropocene—what else are we embarking on, in this age of global warming, other than a fraught and uneven reimagining of the very notion of the human? Is it finally possible for humans and their fellow coexistent life-forms to envision a ‘we’ at all the different scales an ecological politics requires?” — Timothy Morton, author of Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Cymene Howe is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and author of Intimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua, also published by Duke University Press. Ecologics is one half of the duograph Wind and Power in the Anthropocene; Energopolitics, by Dominic Boyer, 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. Wind  23
2. Wind Power, Anticipated  43
3. Trucks  73
4. Wind Power, Interrupted  103
5. Species  137
6. Wind Power, in Suspension  170
Joint Conclusion to Wind and Power in the Anthropocene / Cymene Howe and Dominic Boyer  191
Notes  197
References  223
Index  243
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0385-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0319-9
Funding Information

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