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Barrio women and Energopower in Medellín, Colombia

Journal article
Authors Juan Velasquez Atehortua
Published in Journal of Latin American Studies
Volume 49
Issue 2
Pages 355-382
ISSN 0022-216X
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Cultural Sciences
Pages 355-382
Language en
Links https://doi.org/10.1017/S0022216X16...
Keywords energopower, Medellín, Colombia, Barrio Women, Social Urbanism
Subject categories Human Geography, Globalization Studies, Public Administration Studies, International law, Settlement studies, Economic Geography, Architecture, Gender Studies


This article argues that the prepaid energy system put into operation in Medellín and across Colombia worked as an expression of ‘energopower’; that is, energy as a means to govern societies. The article uses press archives and company statements, official statistics and group interviews to show how energopower operates in Medellín along three lines: that Empresas Públicas de Medellín, the city's public utility company, encouraged disconnected and displaced people as new buyers of prepaid energy services instead of citizens entitled to those services; that the implementation of the prepaid energy system coincided with the vertiginous capitalisation that allowed the city to fund its ‘Social Urbanism’ and EPM to expand operations across Colombia and other countries in Latin America; and, that prepaid electricity as a tool of energopower subjugated displaced and disconnected populations to new forms of affordability that prompted barrio women to understand and oppose its disciplining methods of domination.

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