Field Research Grants

Steven Schwartz, Anthropology


My project explores how indigenous Wayúu communities and transnational energy corporations experience the transition from fossil fuels to wind farming in the Guajira—an arid, resource-rich, yet severely impoverished region along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. My research asks how the development of wind farms is transforming the everyday lives of indigenous and corporate actors; what promises and risks this transition entails for indigenous peoples and extractive companies; and how notions of Wayúu identity and corporate forms of social relations are being rearranged and re-evaluated. To do so, I plan to undertake 12 months of ethnographic field research, observing existent and projected wind parks and interacting with members of Wayúu communities, employees of energy corporations, and local activists protesting the expansion wind power in the Guajira. By studying the limits and possibilities afforded by wind power infrastructure, I seek to gain a deeper understanding of the social, economic, and political dimensions of renewable energy in the Global South.


Steven SchwartzSteven Schwartz is PhD Student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. His research interests include energy, political ecology, development, value and indigeneity in Latin America. He was born and raised in Venezuela, where he completed a BA at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Venezuela and Colombia since 2011.