Prefiguring politics: transregional energy infrastructures as a lens for the study of authoritarian practices

photo of Globalizations journal cover
Alke Jenss; Benjamin Schuetze

Transregional energy infrastructure projects connect regions anew and envisage borderless energy flows. Building on prior work on technopolitics and the practice-turn in research on authoritarian power, we develop a political economy approach to the effects of transnational energy infrastructure expansion. This contribution asks what role transregional
authoritarian practices in energy infrastructure expansion play for the limitation of opportunities for contestation and how they prefigure politics. We argue that contemporary energy infrastructure projects remove opportunities for democratic contestation, and fix specific energy futures in place, while preventing others. As material expressions of specific visions of the future, large-scale transnational energy infrastructures alter and hinder democratic decision-making. They shape the context within which infrastructural politics are imagined and realized, thereby enabling, blocking, or containing attempts at transitioning towards sustainable futures. Finally, we briefly zoom in on select project sites and actors in two transregional electricity infrastructure projects, SIEPAC and MedRing.