Chelsea Schields

    Associate Professor, Department of History, University of California, Irvine

2023 to 2024
NEH Postdoctoral Fellow

Charged Currents: Electric Power in the Caribbean

In recent years, intensifying hurricanes have placed Caribbean electric grids in the international spotlight, with footage of darkened cities and mangled power lines appearing as spectacular testaments to the devastation of climate change. Yet, as Charged Currents argues, what appears in today’s news as sudden catastrophe is the outcome of a longer history of electric power in the region. Located at the intersection of the history of energy, technology, and the environment, this book explores how the logics of the plantation shaped the introduction and expansion of electric power from the late-nineteenth century to the present. Regional in scope, Charged Currents traces the inputs of natural resources, capital, and expertise that generated electric power in the Caribbean and the outputs that resulted in racially and economically stratified access to energy and vulnerability to harm.