Solar energy against settler colonialism: Jordan B. Kinder, ‘Solar Infrastructure as Media of Resistance, or, Indigenous Solarities against Settler Colonialism’, South Atlantic Quarterly, 120, 1, 2021, pp. 63-76


Abstract: The ongoing history of setter colonialism is inextricable from the infrastructures of energy and extraction that provide its material foundation. Addressing this inextricable relationship, this article explores how Indigenous solarities in Canada resist extractivism and generate conditions for just energy futures beyond settler colonialism through emergent solar infrastructures. Developing a preliminary theory of Indigenous solarities, this article anchors the author’s observations to Lubicon Cree energy justice activist Melina Laboucan-Massimo’s Sacred Earth Solar initiative and its two completed projects: the Piitapan Solar Project in Laboucan-Massimo’s home community of Little Buffalo, Alberta, Canada, which powers a community health center, and a partnership with the Tiny House Warriors. The Tiny House Warriors is a Secwepemcled movement to construct mobile tiny houses along the path of the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline Project. This article’s approach is methodologically informed by recent infrastructural thinking from theorists such as Lauren Berlant and Deborah Cowen who offer an expansive, relational understanding of infrastructure. It is also informed by thinkers such as Myles Lennon and Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer, who respectively see in solar energy infrastructures the possibilities to decolonize energy and to generate a feminist techno-ecological ethos. This article offers a brief account of the historical and contemporary relationship between settler colonialism and infrastructural development in Canada, before providing an overview of three mutually informing frameworks for preliminarily thinking through the materialization of Indigenous solarities: as media of resistance; as expressions of Indigenous feminism; and as expressions of Indigenous futurisms. The article concludes by scaling out from the context of Sacred Earth Solar’s emergent infrastructures of Indigenous solarities, connecting these efforts with larger movements of Indigenous resistance and renewable energy infrastructure initiatives. Ultimately, this article argues that Indigenous solarities signify myriad potentialities for reorienting our collective energy imaginaries from scarcity to abundance in ways that foreground Indigenous self-determination against and beyond extractivism.

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