Much scholarship extrapolates global narratives of the Anthropocene from the “fossil capitalism” of European imperial powers. This analysis deploys the alternative lens of grid electricity—the great macro-technology of the twentieth century—to reevaluate the dynamics of the Anthropocene outside the Anglozone. Histories of Asian electrification refute the notion of any simple relationship between colonialism and fossil capitalism. Instead, they point towards a postcolonial trend of fossil developmentalism. Especially in the context of late development, energy expansion became a state-led moral project. Cutting against fossil capitalism's logic of commodification, electricity provision was increasingly conceptualized as a national good and an entitlement, even if one honored in the breach. This trend transcended the distinction between market and planned economies, and extended beyond formal democracies. The (partial) democratization of consumption brought by fossil developmentalism is the hallmark of the “Great Acceleration” in human impacts on the environment since 1950.

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