Just Transition and Diverse Temporo-Spatialities of Infrastructures in Indigenous Territories, in La Guajira, Colombia

Astrid Ulloa, The Times of a Just Transition
Project status

In Colombia, the implementation of green energies is an option for a just transition. However, several wind farms (as infrastructures) are being developed in indigenous territory, generating territorial, environmental and cultural conflicts that affect people's ways of life.

The infrastructures make up the materiality of a just (energy) transition. Analysis of infrastructures usually focuses on the specific places where the wind farms are located, without making energy connections and transmission networks and infrastructures visible. Infrastructures also imply execution and duration times, as well as expected completion times. The infrastructures related to wind farms have a short term after which they become technologically inefficient projects, which require new infrastructures (Jaramillo, 2013). Infrastructures have rhythms of permanence and instability and decay time. To install these renewable energies, the national and transnational environmental and economic actors forget to discuss the time of duration not only of infrastructures but also of environmental, territorial, and political expectations.

In this way, the wind infrastructures impose notions of time and space in local contexts, without considering indigenous’ notions of time and space. Moreover, infrastructures fragment indigenous conceptions of territoriality and do not consider the multiple temporalities of humans-non-humans.

In La Guajira, several national (3) and multinational companies (19) have planned for 2030 infrastructure for 54 wind farms and 2,168 wind turbines that will be placed throughout the Wayuu´s territory with towers up to 120 meters high (González & Barney 2019). All these infrastructures will affect indigenous wayuu’s mobility and seasonal territorial practices and their rhythms of permanence as well as temporo-spatialities relationships with non-humans.

In La Guajira, wind farms become invasive infrastructures (Spice 2018). Therefore, Wayuu people demand the defense of their dynamics of time and space, the non-human, and their relational territoriality, against wind infrastructures and propose the recognition of their relationality, of equal importance to infrastructures of just transition, given that it is a social and environmental process that maintains life.

The wind farms not only fragment the Wayuu’s relationship with their territory but also there is a new way of dispossession through technological infrastructures (Ulloa, 2021). In terms of Schaeffer (2022), the imposition of infrastructures in indigenous territories are processes that lead to the rupture of sacred relationality. Likewise, the author argues that a technological occupation of an indigenous territory imposes “the technoscientific logics of settlement that reproduce colonial binaries of civilized versus primitive land and bodies" (Schaeffer, 2022:3).

Wayuu people have territorialities or corpo-territorialities that express feminine/masculine territorialities in specific places and times. Non-humans also have their determined places and time (Guerra-Curvelo 2019, Ulloa, 2020). There are interactions and permanent fluidity among all beings. However, these temporo-spatialities will be affected by infrastructures for just transition that have their own temporality according to technical, political, economic, and environmental situations and intersectionality.

In my work in this programme, I will focus on how the dynamics of the implementation of wind farms in La Guajira through infrastructures involve multiscale time and space processes that affect the Wayúu people. I will also analyze how, to face these new situations, the Wayúu people establish relationships with political and legal and times/temporalities in national and international settings that allow them to articulate other political, territorial, and environmental struggles and demands. That allows Wayúu people to interact in diverse multi-scalar and temporal dimensions.  This research also wants to make visible the connections of the Wayúu proposals with demands for environmental and social justice and territorial rights in the face of just transition.

References cited

Jaramillo, Pablo. 2013. Las servidumbres de la globalización. Viento, créditos de carbono y regímenes de propiedad en La Guajira, Colombia. Buenos Aires: Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales.

González Posso, Camilo and Barney, Joanna. 2019. El viento del Este llega con revoluciones. Multinacionales y transición con energía eólica en territorio Wayúu. Bogotá: Indepaz- Fundación Heinrich Böll Oficina Bogotá.

Guerra-Curvelo, Weilder. 2019. “Ontología wayuu: categorización, identificación y relaciones de los seres en la sociedad indígena de la península de La Guajira, Colombia.” PhD diss. Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá.

Schaeffer, Felicity Amaya. 2022. Unsettled borders: the militarized science of surveillance on sacred indigenous land. Durham: Duke University Press,

Spice, Anne. 2018.  Fighting Invasive Infrastructures Indigenous Relations against Pipelines. Environment and Society: Advances in Research 9 (2018): 40–56.  doi:10.3167/ares.2018.090104

Ulloa, Astrid. 2021. “Transformaciones radicales socioambientales frente a la destrucción renovada y verde, La Guajira, Colombia”. Revista de Geografía Norte Grande, 80: 13-34.

Ulloa, Astrid. 2020. “The Rights of the Wayúu People and Water in the Context of Mining in La Guajira, Colombia: Demands of Relational Water Justice. Human Geography 13 (1): 6–15. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1942778620910894.

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