Energy colonialism

Energy colonialism is an essential yet scarcely theorized concept for understanding how past, present, and future energy systems are shaped by colonial or neocolonial power dynamics, imaginaries, discourses,  and practices. These perspectives are important for contemporary debates on energy transition processes, namely with regard to green finance flows, new green geopolitics, and energy governance. Reconstructing how different understandings of energy colonialism entered political and academic debate, this piece provides an account of its history of ideas and demonstrates how a lack of theoretical underpinning limits analytical rigour and activist work. To close this gap, I engage with concept of coloniality brought up by the “grupo modernidad/colonialidad” and suggest a more nuanced understanding of energy colonialism. A nine-field matrix demonstrates how energy colonialism becomes manifest on different levels of energy transitions and how the concept may serve as a multidimensional research strategy for critical social science research on energy transitions and modes of energy governance, energy infrastructures, and energy subjectivities.

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