Power Struggles

Power Struggles

Dignity, Value, and the Renewable Energy Frontier in Spain
Jaume Franquesa
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/23/2018
Format: Paperback 10
ISBN: 978-0-253-03372-7
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Wind energy is often portrayed as a panacea for the environmental and political ills brought on by an overreliance on fossil fuels, but this characterization may ignore the impact wind farms have on the regions that host them. Power Struggles investigates the uneven allocation of risks and benefits in the relationship between the regions that produce this energy and those that consume it.

Jaume Franquesa considers Spain, a country where wind now constitutes the main source of energy production. In particular, he looks at the Southern Catalonia region, which has traditionally been a source of energy production through nuclear reactors, dams, oil refineries, and gas and electrical lines. Despite providing energy that runs the country, the region is still forced to the political and economic periphery as the power they produce is controlled by centralized, international Spanish corporations. Local resistance to wind farm installation in Southern Catalonia relies on the notion of dignity: the ability to live within one's means and according to one's own decisions. Power Struggles shows how, without careful attention, renewable energy production can reinforce patterns of exploitation even as it promises a fair and hopeful future.

Author Bio

Jaume Franquesa is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. He is author of Urbanismo Neoliberal, Negocio Inmobiliario y Vida Vecinal (Neoliberal Planning, Real Estate and Neighborhood Life).


“This is anthropological political economy at its best. A deep historical and ethnographic understanding of Catalan peasants and their struggles interlaced with invaluable discussions about key issues such as dignity, autonomy, land, energy, peripheripherality, and the contradictions of non-synchronicity and struggle. Franquesa offers us deep insights into the ongoing enigma of Catalan and Spanish politics.”
 — Don Kalb, author of Expanding Class: Power and Everyday Politics in Industrial Communities, The Netherlands 1850–1950

“Indispensable reading for energy justice in an age of climate crisis.”
 — Jason W. Moore, author of Capitalism in the Web of Life

“This is a compelling book, not just because of Franquesa’s mastery of vivid ethnographic writing, but because of the lucid and sophisticated way he weaves together theories of value and unequal exchange to cast a whole new light on capital’s encounters with rural spaces.”
 — Jane L. Collins, author of The Politics of Value

“Franquesa’s historical anthropology of energy in southern Catalonia is both engagingly written and thought-provoking. He convincingly demonstrates that the social sciences have been wrong in relegating energy to a 'natural' domain that is imagined to be external to their field of interest. The seemingly innocent harnessing of natural forces is always a matter of displacing environmental burdens onto marginalized social groups.”
 — Alf Hornborg, author of Global Magic: Technologies of Appropriation from Ancient Rome to Wall Street

“Before they can become energy water, wind, and splitting atoms must land somewhere–in a turbine, on a grid, in a pipe–always in places marked by prior histories of struggle over landscapes, livelihoods, and identities. This lucid and absolutely engaging book takes us into the heart of the encounter between would-be abstract power, and the embodied social forces that shape, channel, and challenge it. Theorization, argument, history, geography, and everyday life at 'the end of the world' are tightly woven: outstanding.”
 — Tania Murray Li, author of Land's End: Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier

Power Struggles is a thoughtful and exciting book.”
 — American Ethnologist

Power Struggles, Jaume Franquesa's detailed historiography of energy generation in southern Catalonia, offers valuable insight into why people might protest against wind turbines. ”
 — American Anthropologits

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