Society for Cultural Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
The Colombian Guajira frequently makes national headlines for its corruption scandals, from imprisoned governors and electoral frauds, to unfinished roads and embezzlement of public funds. Less visible is the history of how numerous extractive corporations – of coal and natural gas –have taken up questionable state-like functions in their everyday interaction with Wayuu indigenous communities that hold jurisdiction over the peninsula. This paper explores emergent forms of "corruption talk" surrounding the newest frontier of energy extraction in La Guajira – wind farming. Transnational corporations intend to build over 60 wind farms in the next decade, sparking fears of an imminent “privatization” of wind. I explore how engagements between wind farming corporations and Wayuu residents – mainly through corporation responsibility programs – have positioned corruption as a widespread heuristics for critiquing, or mobilizing against, this energy boom. I analyze the possibilities of this form of "corruption talk" in shaping public understandings and political sensibilities around wind energy projects – and the rights to wind – in a context where the boundaries between state, corporate, and indigenous control are increasingly blurry and contested.