Southwest Philosophy Review

Volume 40, Issue 1, January 2024

Pedro Brea
Pages 145-151

Colonialism, Race, and the Concept of Energy

The following paper puts the history of race and colonialism in conversation with the history of the concept of energy. The objective is to understand what a critical decolonial perspective can teach us about the central role that energy plays in western culture, materially and epistemologically. I am interested in how this approach to political, epistemological, and ontological questions demands that we reconceptualize energy to account for the historical particularity of the concept and the phenomena of history and intersubjectivity, which are eschewed in a purely materialistic and quantitative conception of energy. We will see how energy has been complicit in the racialization of black and indigenous bodies, and how the privileged place that the concept of energy has occupied in the canon of western physics has served to obscure the theological, metaphysical, and cultural assumptions that constitute it.