THE ENERGY AND RESOURCES GROUP SPRING 2020 COLLOQUIUM SERIES PRESENTS:
SPEAKER: Robert Connell
DATE: Monday, February 24, 2020
PLACE: 101 Barker Hall
Maroon Ecology: Survival, Sovereignty, and Solar Power in the Afterlife of Slavery
This talk presents a socio-historical anthropology of power in the high-stakes environmental justice struggle of a Black Caribbean autonomous society. Jamaican Maroon contemporary political transformations and sovereignty aspirations stand in opposition to bauxite mining that threatens their highland forest traditional territory. Although Maroon political systems were founded in the context of resistance against enslavement, in the 21st century the Maroons are increasingly engaging with ideas of sustainability, constitutionalism, and state formation, adapted through the political flows of their diasporic network. This includes community-controlled solar power production as the prospective economic basis of sovereignty. As such, contemporary Maroon struggle presents a compelling case study of the limits of environmental policy and the intersections between renewable energy and environmental justice.
Robert Connell is the UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in African American and African Studies at UC Davis. His broad research trajectory examines how racially marginalized societies practicing autonomous governance negotiate conflicts with sovereign states over the political and ecological consequences of resource extraction and climate change. Grounded in an interdisciplinary engagement between African diaspora theory and ethnographically-informed political ecology, Robert’s current book project, Maroon Ecology: Preservationism, Autonomy, and Legacies of Resistance, provides a description, interpretation, and analysis of the contemporary social organization and governance of Circum-Caribbean Maroon polities as they bring to bear distinct histories of resistance onto the terrain of political conflict and negotiations with their respective national states over mining. Robert’s parallel research interests include participatory field research methods, oral histories, indigeneity, and the function of utopia and radical imagination in the African diaspora. Robert has published in the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology and the Diaspora, and is a curator of the Accompong Maroon Museum in Jamaica.