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Maintaining Power: Decarbonisation and Recentralisation in Cuba's Energy Revolution

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-94
Number of pages14
JournalTransactions of the institute of british geographers
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

King's Authors


With the Energy Revolution of 2005, the energy and carbon intensity of the Cuban state-economy decreased by over a third. More than an issue of low-carbon transition, however, this article suggests that the Energy Revolution was an attempt to maintain social power relations through everyday energy use. Drawing on archival and ethnographic fieldwork in Cuba, the article conceptualises energy infrastructures as co-constitutive of the ecological conditions for social life. Energy infrastructures shape human action and interaction by operationalising political-economic regimes of energy distribution. The article traces the state-socialist logic guiding Cuba’s longstanding electrification campaign and shows how a multitude of market-based energy systems during the 1990s ‘special period’ undermined this logic. By examining three core interventions during the Energy Revolution, finally, it demonstrates how the Energy Revolution recentralised power relations through energy use, re-establishing the hegemony of the socialist state. If energy use is seen as a political-ecological process, the maintenance of energy infrastructure is an act that reinforces a socio-ecological order and, hence, a set of political-economic relations.

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