BC3’s new article analyzes the connection between authoritarian politics and patriarchal power structures in solar energy

The expansion of solar energy in Turkey and India reveals a troubling connection between authoritarian politics and patriarchal power structures. A new article led by BC3 and published in Energy Research & Social Science examines how large-scale solar projects reinforce these dynamics, focusing on the concept of ‘solar masculinities’ in Turkey and India.

“These projects help authoritarian leaders like Erdoğan and Modi tighten their grip on power. By promoting these projects as symbols of progress, they mask their repressive actions and displace local communities, worsening social inequalities.” (Alevgul Sorman, BC3, Ikerbasque research associate & Ryan Stock, Northern Michigan University)

According to the study, political leaders use these solar projects to boost their images, presenting themselves as green energy champions and gaining international and domestic legitimacy. However, this narrative often hides the reality of forced land acquisitions and environmental degradation affecting local populations.

‘Solar masculinities’ refer to the gendered aspects of these energy projects, extending the idea of ‘petromasculinities’ from Cara Daggett’s pioneering work. Results show how solar projects reinforce authoritarian and patriarchal norms by strengthening control and shaping nationalistic and developmental myths that obscure injustices in Turkey and India. 

“Our study demonstrates how these projects exploit resources by displacing communities and exploiting land for state and corporate interests while prioritizing rapid development at the expense of social equity. Vulnerable populations are marginalized under the guise of progress, and the projects integrate into broader power networks that entrench authoritarianism and patriarchy.” (Alevgul Sorman, BC3, Ikerbasque research associate, BC3 & Ryan Stock, Northern Michigan University)

The study concludes that solar masculinities under authoritarian regimes in Turkey and India hinder just energy transitions. The authors recommend addressing these socio-political challenges and dismantling  oppressive structures for just and equitable solar futures

Paper details:

Title: Solar masculinities from the south: Patriarchal and ethnoreligious authoritarianism through solar infrastructures in Turkey and India

Link: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629624001749?via%3Dihub  

Doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.erss.2024.103583

Authors: Sorman, A.H.; Stock, R.

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