2023-24 Lloyd & Susanne Rudolph Field Research Fellow
Wind Resistance: contesting post-carbon futures in post-crisis Greece
This project engages an environmental movement resisting alternative energy infrastructure in rural Greece to explore the ontological and political implications of a possible contradiction at the heart of contemporary environmentalism. That is, the apparent incommensurability of aspirations to save the planet, as the object of dominant climate science, and aspirations to save the Earth, as the object of placed or relational knowledge systems. The central node in this multi-sited ethnography is the Agrafa mountain range, a beautiful and biodiverse ‘wild’ space, once an autonomous enclave within the Ottoman Empire, and later a refuge for Communist Partisans. Today, this formerly indominable territory is being reconfigured as a site for large-scale wind energy generation, causing new enclosures and infrastructural incursions into peasant commons and protected ecosystems. In response, a politically diverse movement, joining local pastoralists, urban environmentalists, and political radicals, has converged around calls to “save” Agrafa, as a sublime space of autonomous, low-impact living, from incorporation into networks of value extraction. This project, therefore, centers Agrafa within both international flows of capital and energy and domestic networks of environmental activism to ask how technoscientific ‘fixes’ to climate change reconfigure modes of being, knowing, and imagining in semi-peripheral multi-species communities.
Alyssa Mendez is a second-year PhD student in Anthropology at the University of Chicago. She holds a MA in South European Studies from the University of Glasgow and the National Kapodistrian University of Athens and a BA in Anthropology and Modern Greek Studies from Columbia University. Her research interests include alternative ecological politics and ethics, the epistemological affordances of aesthetics, and the structuring roles of capitalism and colonialism in mainstream environmentalism. Her project explores the political resistance to and local impacts of large-scale alternative energy infrastructure in a biodiverse peasant landscape in Greece to consider the social, political, and ontological implications of popular technoscientific ‘fixes’ to climate change.