Making Post-Extractive Futures in Data- Saturated Worlds

Call for Articles – Edited Volume
Strukturwandel: Post-extraktive Zukunft in datengesättigten Welten / Making Post-Extractive Futures in Data- Saturated Worlds

There is a growing awareness across the world that in order to enable a sustainable future, extractive
industries and economies based on those industries need to be transformed. Accordingly, national
governments, transnational institutions as well as various experts and public initiatives are currently
negotiating scenarios for such transformations in trying to anticipate their social and environmental

In Germany, for example, the upcoming exit from coal mining is expected to entail a major structural
change, or Strukturwandel for whole regions. According to economic theory, structural change
comprises a shift from agricultural to industrial and to the service sector, and subsequent
transformations for employment, industry organization, financial systems, or income and wealth
distribution. However, the impact of mining goes way beyond the economic sphere, as does structural change. Accordingly, the consequences of exiting mining are expected to be felt not only in the economical and labour sector, but also to significantly change cultural and social life. These transitions are, furthermore, heavily intertwined with institutional change, technological development, and everyday life.

This book aims to investigate the making of post-extractive futures in different social contexts and
from interdisciplinary and comparative perspectives. Using the German notion of Strukturwandel, we suggest a more general take on post-extractive transformation as a fundamental and multidimensional process. Strukturwandel impacts societies in various, also unexpected ways and its effects may be unevenly distributed among locales and actors. Seen as inevitable and complex,
Strukturwandel is, however, also regarded as being malleable and governable in political and public
discourses. This implies the possibility and even necessity of engagement, participation, and
collaboration of public as well as political and economic actors.

Digitization is one of these powerful future scenarios, supposedly applicable to former mining and
other post-industrial areas. Visions of information technologies enabling connected and integrated
futures for currently suspended and closed down regions is elaborated upon in political and
technological discourse, such as, for instance, plans of turning former industrial buildings into digital
innovation labs and science parks, or former mining areas into “smart regions” and testfields for ITbased services. Digitization is even expected to modernize “old” industries, enabling them to survive the industrial transition by means of virtualization (“industry 4.0”). Given the popular image of IT technologies as inclusive, future-oriented and environmentally friendly, this contemporary
postindustrial scenario is often welcomed by broader publics and the media.

At the same time, it can be argued that digitization with its high penetration of all aspects of society is
causing rather than cushioning structural change, and heavily impacting social life and natural
environment. The expanding energy-consuming infrastructures and industries needed to implement
digital innovation might as well lead to environmental damages and new inequalities, related to the
uneven distribution of connectivity and technological intelligence.

In this book, we are especially interested in how visions of Stukturwandel, exit from mining,
connectivity and IT-based innovation are being integrated into predictive models and scenarios of the future, and how these are implemented. How is knowledge about the future in/of post-extractive datasaturated worlds produced, distributed, and applied? And how are IT-related needs of energy and
natural resources calculated and legitimized in regard to an anticipated (smart and sustainable) society of the future?

We invite contributions that investigate Strukturwandel and the making of post-extractive futures
either in relation to mining or (and) in relation to digitization. Essays can comprise, but are not limited to, questions of the sociocultural impact of Strukturwandel, its process and navigation, sectoral interlinkages, lived experiences, political necessities, and the moral, technical and economic challenges and chances related to it. Case studies from different locales and (post-)industrial sites are welcome.

In methodological terms, we are interested in going beyond the traditional divides of old and new
industries, and to think through different infrastructural-industrial developments with their spatial and temporal dimensions, bearing in mind that even breaks can be regarded as specific forms of relation.

We welcome contributions in both English and German language.
Please send an abstract of no more than 500 words by December 31st, 2019 to or

Cite this blog post
Nathalie Ortar (2019, December 13). Making Post-Extractive Futures in Data- Saturated Worlds. Energy Anthropology Network. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from

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