(Un)sustainable wind: Renewable energy, politics and ontology in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico

  • Francesco Zanotelli Università di Messina, Italy


The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, southern Mexico, has recently become a sight of political struggle between, on the one hand, multinational corporations and the state, and on the other, some sectors of the indigenous population and regional and national social movements. The conflict involves several wind farm projects to be located on the communal land base and lagoons inhabited by Ikojts Indians and Zapotecos. This case highlights an urgent and widespread discussion about sustainable energy production and the alternative meanings attached to the idea of sustainability. According to indigenous categories of thought that emerge from myth and political practice, there is significant agency attributed to the environmental elements involved, particularly wind and water, and so it is useful to consider the relationship between human and non-human, and the collective formed by the person, animal, and air that is well-known in the literature about Mesoamerican ontology. The article adds to this traditional literature a focus on the local moral economy and the political economy of wider scale processes. Utilizing the concept of onto-politics, it investigates the relationship between the local and the global at the new frontier of ecological neoliberalism.

How to Cite
Zanotelli, F. (2017) “(Un)sustainable wind: Renewable energy, politics and ontology in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico”, Anuac, 5(2), pp. 159-194. doi: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-2589.
Thematic section: Onto-Politics. Rethinking the relations between humans and non-humans