Bergen Roundtable

Roundtable: Energy anthropologies: legacies and research agendas

Energy Impacts conference, Bergen, Norway, February 28th 2017

Convenors: Nathalie Ortar, Simone Abram, Tristan Loloum, Aleksandra Lis

Anthropologists around the world are responding to Global concerns about energy, bringing valuable insights to our understanding of how humans produce and use energy, how they think about it and through it, and how energy systems shape Societies and  States. Major ethnographic and theoretical works ons energy justice, exploitation, concepts and comparative studies of energies have emerged in recent years. Anthropologies of energy highlight the connections between different forms of energy, their everyday uses, how they are embedded socially, and the systems of domination in which they participate. Ethnography is a valuable method to apprehend energy practices from the ground up and in context. It allows us to understand how energy makes sense to people and how it is incorporated within daily routines, collective histories and social organisations. More than ever anthropologists need to question the indivisibility of socio-technological systems and analyse how energetic networks underpin economic, political and social relations at different scales.

The roundtable aimed to question where energy anthropology is now. State of the Art events were held in 2016 through panels at ASA (Durham) and EASA (Milan) as well as at a Wenner Gren workshop in Durham. The roundtable took forward the issues raised at these seminars, and invited participants from different countries to present the research context from their perspective, in relation to the history of energy research in national arenas, respective theoretical trends and research agendas.

The aim of the roundtable was thus to set out a research agenda for future Energy Anthropology research. The four following topics were designed and each participants had to develop one topic although he had the opportunity to speak on each topic.

1/ short presentation and research objects (what do you study? how did you come to energy?)

2/ theoretical legacies (important books or articles, theoretical frameworks you often refer to)

3/ fieldworks and methods (specific empirical-epistemological challenges of investigating energy?)

4/ research agendas (what will/would you like to study in the near future? what should be studied?)

Conclusion: what does studying energy brings to anthropology/how does studying energy change or develop anthropology?

The following posts are a restitution of some of the presentations that were done that day.