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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

Seminar: Renewable Energy, Settler Colonialism and Poetic Resistance: Wind Farms in Western Sahara

2nd May 2019, 13:00 to 14:00, E245, Engineering Department, Dr Joanna Allan (Northumbria University) and Hamza Lakhal (PhD student, anthropology, Durham University)

A seminar jointly hosted by the Centre for Cultural Ecologies and the Durham Energy Institute

Abstract: The academy has explored how “dirty” energy has led to violence, environmental destruction and poverty. We know how the renewables sector, in some contexts, reflects neoliberal modes of power and can subsume social outcomes to economic ones. But we still lack a clear picture of how green energy is implicated in human rights abuses and colonialism in some settings. In this paper, we firstly argue that the green energy industry is, in the context of Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara, in danger of replicating the neocolonial and violent culture of the fossil fuels industry. We use Critical Discourse Analysis to show how Western corporations contribute discursively and physically to Morocco’s settler colonial project in Western Sahara. At the same time though, Saharawis (the indigenous people of Western Sahara) challenge energy injustices, often using the arts as their weapons. In the second part of the talk, Dr Allan analyses Saharawi resistance poetry, which, she argues, makes aesthetic use of Western Sahara’s winds to challenge the colonising discourses of corporations that appropriate Saharawi lands. Then, from an activist perspective, Mr Lakhal discusses the campaigning efforts of Saharawis living under occupation and the dangers they face when taking on the global actors that exploit their country’s natural resources.