Faculty & Staff

Stephanie Friede

Cultural Anthropology
PhD, Duke University, 2018

MA, Columbia University, 2011

BS, Cornell University, 2005

Email: sjfriede@uncg.edu
Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

  • Environmental Injustice
  • Renewable Energy
  • Resource Extraction
  • Science and Technology Studies
  • Latin America
  • Housing
  • Spatial Justice

Courses Taught

  • ATY 100: Cultural Diversity
  • ATY 204: Ethnographic Film
  • ATY 212: How to Human
  • ATY 311: Reading Culture and Society


2018 “Atmospheric Pressure: An Ethnography of Wind, Turbines, and Zapotec Life in Southern Mexico.”
Duke University Dissertations

2016 “Consultas, Corporations and Governance in Tehuantepec, Mexico.” Peace Review: A Journal of Social
Justice. Taylor & Francis. 28:1, 84-92.

2016 “Enticed by the Wind: A Case Study in the Social and Historical Context of Wind Energy
Development in Southern Mexico.” Woodrow Wilson Center: The Mexico Institute. Washington, D.C.

2015 “Weather, Ritual, and Día de los Muertos in Juchitán.”
EnviroSociety. 30 October. www.envirosociety.org/2015/10/stephanie-friede-weather-ritual-anddia-de-los-muertos.

2015 “The Anthropology of Extinction: Essays on Culture and Species Death. ” Review. edited by Genese
Marie Sodikoff, Environment and Society: Advances in Research. Vol. 6: 182-183.


Personal Statement

My scholarship and teaching are located at the intersection of Science and Technology Studies, Environmental Humanities, and the politics of indigeneity in the Global South. In my work I seek to complicate simplified narratives that promise that technological fixes can alone address the complex human and environmental issues of global climate change. In my book manuscript, “Atmospheric Pressure: An Ethnography of Wind, Turbines, and Zapotec Life in Southern Mexico,” I explore how the wind becomes a commodity and the attending political struggles surrounding wind energy projects. My work theorizes pressure as the sensual experience of life-making in a windy world and the politics of renewable energy, which have led to huge profits for some, largely at the expense of Oaxaca’s indigenous Zapotec peoples. Funded by the Fulbright Foundation, I carried out more than twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork among renewable energy experts, government bureaucrats, European and Mexican engineers, and citizen activists. Wind energy advocates see these projects as a “win-win” solution to confront both poverty and environmental degradation. Opponents ask, “What will we eat if they turn everything into gold?” Although wind, like the sun and water, are now classified as “alternative” resources, the product — electricity — must be made. My book traces the social, material, and knowledge practices mobilized to convert the unpredictable force of the wind into electricity. I argue that these processes reinforce existing political and economic hierarchies, hardly the utopian outcome of much talk about sustainability and green energy.


My current and future research are informed by previous work, including my master’s thesis, “Extracting the Past, Producing the Present: Narratives of Progress, Controversy, and History in Southeastern Kentucky.” In this project I ask, “In what ways does the past inform how coal mining communities in Eastern Kentucky think about and plan for the future?” I bring to my teaching and research my experience in documentary film and media production, helping to translate work produced on campus to audiences beyond those walls.

Current Projects

In working with undergraduates, I aim to give students critical tools to understand culture and society, fostering a sense of curiosity about unfamiliar places, people, and ways of being in the world. My teaching and work more broadly is motivated by the conviction that long-term interdisciplinary research rooted in ethnographic methods can help to reduce the threats posed by global climate change. I believe that ethnography teaches the art of careful listening, which I hope that my students will bring with them into their careers and personal lives, amplifying the value of public education toward creating a more just and equitable future by teaching future nurses, teachers, and technologists how to understand the ways in which culture and power operate in the world’s we inhabit.


In addition to editing my book manuscript, I have multiple articles in various stages of the peer review process. I continue to work on “The Eviction Project,” a mixed-methods research project I am leading with the Forsyth County based nonprofit organization, Forsyth Futures. This project integrates quantitative and qualitative research methods to shows how evictions work as a legal process and the workings of a system whose operations have largely remained invisible to those most vulnerable to its effects. I hope to support UNCG students interested in understanding housing justice issues engage further with this project.




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