Powerful Relations: Kinship and Decentralized Electricity Production

author: Annina Boogen

This project analyses the experiences and knowledge of local communities in the Canton of Uri and Central Nicaragua that generate their own electricity. It also examines the sustainability of power plants controlled by local communities, the role of topography and the authorities, and in particular the ways in which innovation occurs in mountainous areas. The objective is to contribute to contemporary endeavours to make energy systems more sustainable from the ecological, democratic and organisational points of view.

On theoretical level, the research establishes a link between energy infrastructure and the anthropological issues of kinship and gender. The questions asked are: (1) How do role players negotiate, understand and adjust matters of kinship and gender to decision-making and conflicts over the operation, control and uses of decentralised power plants? (2) To what extent and under which conditions do past, present and future kinship relations promote or impair the sustainability of decentralised energy production? (3) What types of exploitation and dependency exist in decentralised electricity companies, and what roles do kinship and gender play in them?


January 2021

Sibylle Lustenberger