New book – Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community (Thomas W. Pearson)

When the Hills Are Gone

Frac Sand Mining and the Struggle for Community

Thomas W. Pearson

An overlooked part of fracking’s environmental impact becomes a window into the activists and industrial interests fighting for the future of energy production—and the fate of rural communities

When the Hills Are Gone tells the story of Wisconsin’s sand mining wars. Providing on-the-ground accounts from both the mining industry and the concerned citizens who fought back, Thomas W. Pearson blends social theory, ethnography, stirring journalism, and his own passionate point of view to offer an essential chapter of Wisconsin’s history and an important episode in the national environmental movement.

Fracking is one of the most controversial methods of fossil fuel extraction in the United States, but a great deal about it remains out of the public eye. In Wisconsin it has ignited an unprecedented explosion in the state’s sand mining operations, an essential ingredient in hydraulic fracturing that has shaken local communities to the core.

In When the Hills Are Gone, Thomas W. Pearson reveals the jolting impact of sand mining on Wisconsin’s environment and politics. A source of extraordinary wealth for a lucky few, and the cause of despoiled land for many others, sand mining has raised alarm over air quality, water purity, noise, blasting, depressed tourism, and damage to the local way of life. It has also spurred a backlash in a grassroots effort that has grown into a mature political movement battling a powerful mining industry.

When the Hills Are Gone tells the story of Wisconsin’s sand mining wars. Providing on-the-ground accounts from both the mining industry and the concerned citizens who fought back, Pearson blends social theory, ethnography, stirring journalism, and his own passionate point of view to offer an essential chapter of Wisconsin’s history and an important episode in the national environmental movement. Digging deep into the struggles over place, community, and local democracy that are occurring across the United States, When the Hills Are Gone gives vital insight into America’s environmental battles along the unexpected frontlines of energy development.

Introduction: Magic Mineral
1. Save Our Hills
2. Low-Hanging Fruit
3. Dangers Unseen
4. Where You Live
5. Neighbors
6. In Pursuit of Local Democracy
7. Confronting the Next Boom


Thomas W. Pearson is associate professor of anthropology and assistant director of the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. His research has been published in American Anthropologist, Cultural Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Human Organization, and other academic journals. He lives in Menomonie, Wisconsin.


Editor’s webpage:

3 Postdoc Fellowship at SESYNC (USA) on Climate & Health / Disaster in a Warming World / Food Waste (Deadline December 1)

New Postdoctoral Fellowship Opportunities at SESYNC

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) invites applications for three new Postdoctoral Fellowship opportunities: One Postdoc will co-develop a research project to address research gaps on the link between climate change and children’s health, another will study how societies cope with natural disasters, and the third will focus on modeling the environmental impacts of food waste in the U.S. The three opportunities will be for August 2018 through August 2020, and are open to applicants who have completed their PhD in a relevant field within the last four years.

The new Fellowship opportunities include the following:

SESYNC-Georgetown Postdoctoral Fellowship – Ecological Connections: Climate and Health

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Georgetown University invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on Ecological Connections: Climate and Health.

The Postdoctoral fellow will co-develop a project designed to address critical research gaps on the relationship between the changing environment and children’s respiratory health by building a model based on the synthesis of multiple data sets and a wide range of variables.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will be based a minimum of three days a week at SESYNC in Annapolis, Maryland and two days a week at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C and will work with Dr. Laura Anderko of Georgetown as their primary Collaborating Mentor.

Preliminary screening applications are due December 1, 2017 and project proposals with collaborating mentors are due February 1, 2017. More information and application instructions can be found here.


SESYNC-Georgetown Postdoctoral Fellowship: Coping with Disaster in a Warming World

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Georgetown University invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on Coping with Disaster in a Warming World.

The Postdoctoral fellow will co-develop a project designed to address critical gaps in our understanding of how societies cope with the sorts of natural disasters that are expected to become more frequent and more devastating in coming decades. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and strength of extreme weather events. This research program would bring together socio-economic data with meteorological and land use data to build a better picture of how individuals and societies make critical decisions both in anticipation and wake of natural disasters.

The Postdoctoral Fellow will be based a minimum of three days a week at SESYNC in Annapolis, Maryland and two days a week at Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C and will work with Dr. Raphael Calel of Georgetown as their primary collaborating mentor.

Preliminary screening applications are due December 1, 2017 and project proposals with collaborating mentors are due February 1, 2017. More information and application instructions can be found here.


SESYNC-RTI Postdoctoral Fellowship: Modeling the Impacts of Food Waste on the Environment

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) and Research Triangle Institute (RTI) invite applications for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship opportunity, focused on modeling the environmental and ecological impacts of food waste in the United States.

Prior studies have measured the environmental impacts of the food system in general, of food waste specifically, or of changes in food consumption patterns based on the dietary guidelines or other trends. This project will contribute to the existing body of knowledge by defining and modeling the environmental, ecological, and economic impacts of food loss and waste across within the U.S. food system to determine how best to prioritize waste reduction efforts.

The Fellow will work in residence at SESYNC in Annapolis, MD and will work with Dr. Mary Muth of RTI as their primary Collaborating Research Mentor.

Preliminary screening applications are due December 1, 2017 and project proposals with collaborating mentors are due January 15. More information and application instructions can be found here.

The Fellows will join a cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows at SESYNC and will take part in the SESYNC Postdoctoral Immersion Program and other professional development opportunities.

Applications for these opportunities will take place in a two-step process. First, submit a Preliminary Screening Application including a combined PDF of your C.V. and a detailed cover letter. Second, successful applicants will be invited to co-develop a project proposal with a collaborating mentor.

Fourth Energy and Society Conference: Energy transitions in a divided world

Midterm conference of the European Sociological Association Research Network 12 – Environment and Society

3 – 5 September 2018, University of Exeter, UK

The Energy & Society Conferences have been aiming at inspiring and providing networking opportunities for researchers interested in energy and society issues. Following the success of the three previous conferences, we will now be hosting the fourth conference in Exeter. We hope this can be a great occasion for developing the sense of community that has been emerging from these meetings, as well as from the conferences of the European Sociological Association. In order to provide a lively forum for insightful debates, the conference will include other formats besides keynote presentations and sessions for oral presentations. Participants will also be able to present and discuss their research in roundtables and in poster sessions. The conference will also offer workshops proposed and organized by participants. Moreover, participants are invited to propose informal meetings, which will be announced during the conference. We hope that the social events will also contribute to make this a pleasant and friendly conference.

More information about the venue, accommodation, how to reach the venue, excursions and the other social events to follow soon.

Call for papers

The deadline for the submission of abstracts and workshop proposals is January 15 2018.

Read more about keynote speakers, scientific committee and submission process.

The Energy and Society Network

Find out more about the Network and how to become a member.

EDF Grants 2017 / 2018 – History of Electricity and Energy

GRANTS FOR 2017 / 2018

Since 2001, the Committee for the History of Electricity has three objectives focused on the history of electricity: to conduct or foster scientific research, to study and promote tangible and intangible heritage, and to share and impart knowledge.

In 2013, the Committee widened its scope to become the Committee for the History of Electricity and Energy.
The Committee for the History of Electricity and Energy offers grants varying from 1,500 to 3,000 euros to graduate students.

Applications can be written in French or English.

Selection will be based on the following criteria: originality of the subject, preparation and quality of presentation of the project. The project must deal, at least partly, with the history of electricity or energy in France, Europe or elsewhere in the world.

Payment of the grant will be conditional upon signature of an agreement. The thesis or dissertation may be written in the language chosen by the student. However, a summary in French or English must be submitted to the Committee for the History of Electricity and Energy for theses or dissertations written in any other language.

The application should include:
– the attached application form;
– a letter in which the candidate requests a grant, gives the precise subject of his/her research, as defined with his/her supervisor, and binds him/herself to respect the agreement if he/she is selected;
– a presentation of the research project mentioning the sources, the methodology, the questions to be raised, and a short bibliography (6-10 p.);
– a detailed curriculum vitae;
– a letter of recommendation from the research supervisor, appreciating the candidate and approving the project;
– a photocopy of the student card or an attestation of research delivered by the university or research centre with which the candidate is affiliated.

The application must be sent attached to an email stating the name, the forename, the postal address, the phone number and the email address of the candidate. It must be emailed by November 10, 2017.

For any further information, please contact us by email or by phone : +33 1 53 63 23 46

For more details :  Soutien d’aide à la recherche 2017-2018




Depuis 2001, le Comité d’histoire de l’électricité a pour mission de conduire et de susciter des recherches scientifiques, d’étudier et de valoriser le patrimoine matériel et immatériel, de partager et de communiquer les savoirs sur l’histoire de l’électricité.

En 2013, le Comité a élargi son champ d’intervention pour devenir le Comité d’histoire de l’électricité et de l’énergie. Il poursuit ses actions de soutien dans le domaine de l’histoire et du patrimoine de l’électricité et de l’énergie et contribue à sa diffusion auprès de tous les publics. Le Comité d’histoire de l’électricité et de l’énergie soutient les travaux d’étudiants en sciences humaines sur l’électricité et l’énergie à travers un programme sélectif de soutiens financiers à la recherche dont le montant est compris entre 1500 et 3000 euros.

Nous attirons l’attention des professeurs et des candidats sur les critères de sélection et de classement des dossiers qui seront les suivants : originalité du sujet, sérieux de la préparation de la recherche, qualité de la présentation du dossier.

Le dossier de candidature devra être rédigé en anglais ou en français.

Les sujets acceptés devront porter, au moins partiellement, sur l’histoire de l’électricité, ou plus généralement de l’énergie, en France, en Europe ou ailleurs dans le monde. Le versement des sommes est soumis au respect d’une convention d’études signée dès l’obtention du soutien financier. Le soutien donnera lieu à la rédaction d’un mémoire pour les masters ou d’une thèse pour les doctorants qui pourront être rédigés dans la langue du choix de l’étudiant. Néanmoins, ces travaux devront tous être accompagné d’un résumé en français ou en anglais.

Les dossiers doivent être envoyés par voie électronique le vendredi 10 novembre 2017 au plus tard à l’adresse suivante :

Les dossiers comprendront les documents suivants attachés à un courriel indiquant les nom, prénom, adresse, coordonnées téléphoniques et électroniques du candidat :
– le formulaire de candidature ci-joint dûment rempli ;
– une lettre par laquelle le candidat demande une aide pour un sujet défini en accord avec le directeur de recherches et s’engage à respecter la convention d’études s’il est retenu ;
– un projet de recherche dactylographié (6 à 10 p.), mentionnant la problématique générale du sujet, les sources et les méthodes qui seront utilisées, et des éléments de bibliographie ;
– un curriculum vitæ détaillé du candidat ;
– une lettre de recommandation du Professeur sous la direction duquel la recherche sera menée, présentant l’étudiant et approuvant son projet ;
– une photocopie de la carte d’étudiant ou une attestation de recherche fournie par l’université ou le centre de recherche du candidat.


Pour plus de details :  Soutien d’aide à la recherche 2017-2018

Research Fellow (Distributed Ledgers and Decentralised Energy in Sub Saharan Africa)

University of Edinburgh – College of Arts, Humanities and Soc Scis

Working in Kenya, Tanzania and/or Uganda you will use ethnographic, human centred, participatory and collaborative methods to document and analyse the data practices of pay-as-you-go solar energy companies and customers to understand how data on the generation and consumption of solar energy is produced, transacted, valued and trusted. You will have an appropriate degree, normally a PhD, in social anthropology, politics or human geography, and typically two years relevant research experience including field based qualitative research on the digital economy in East Africa.

This full time, fixed term post is available for 35 hours per week from January 2018 for 16 months.

Closing Date: 5pm (GMT) on Monday 9th October 201

More info HERE

Registration now open: Powering the Planet- Why the world needs Anthropologists

To register to the event and workshops click HERE.


For full programme click HERE.


Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet

28-29 October 2017. Durham, UK

The fifth edition of the annual symposium “Why the World Needs Anthropologists” will take place this year in Durham, 28-29 October. The event will explore how energy professionals and anthropologists can cooperate to design and deploy energy innovations that alter the world for the better. Energy is an indispensable part of our domestic and working lives. We thus need to develop smart and sustainable energy systems that are environmentally responsible and people-friendly.

Be inspired by top speakers.

Improve your skills during thematic workshops.

Visit exhibition stands at the Energy Hotspot and meet new people.


Keynote speakers:

  • BENJ SYKES (UK Country Manager and Head of Programme Asset Management in DONG Energy’s Offshore Wind Power)
  • TANJA WINTHER (Associate Professor at Centre for Development and the Environment, University of Oslo)
  • SOPHIE BOULY DE LESDAIN (Expert Researcher at Electricité de France (EDF))
  • VERONICA STRANG (Executive Director of the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University)


Registration for this free event will open on 1 September 2017. However, you can subscribe now at and follow updates also on Facebook:


During the day, our co-organisers, sponsors and partners will present at the Energy Hotspot. Do not miss the opportunity to mingle with enthusiasts from all sorts of different domains in academia, energy industry and non-for-profit sector.


Accounting for Energy (Energethics)
The roles of corporations in aiming for a sustainable future, and how anthropological insights help asking the right questions.

Ethno-Engineering (LCEDN)
How to work appropriately with technical practice innovations in culturing skills for renewable energy.

Insightful Jobs (ASA Apply)
Demonstrating the Value of Reflexive Thinking.

Mining History (Durham Energy Institute)
A walking tour of Durham featuring its hidden history as the centre of what was once the largest coalfield in England.


LCEDN Annual Conference 2017: Equity and Energy Justice (11-12 Sept, Durham)

The Low Carbon Energy for Development Network is pleased to invite you to our Annual Conference 2017, which will be held at Durham University on the 11th and 12th of September 2017. The theme for this year’s conference is “Equity and Energy Justice“.

Speakers include Dr Rosie Day (University of Birmingham), Professor Benjamin Sovacool (University of Sussex), Dr Vanesa Castan Broto (University College London) , Professor Joy Clancy (University of Twente) and Simon Trace (former CEO at Practical Action).Working within the broad framework of the UN’s policy of promoting Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) the conference is based on the principle that without equity of access and energy justice, there can be no sustainability, and the conference aims to further understandings of how equity and justice are essential components of sustainability.Issues we are hoping to address include (but are not limited to):

  • Inclusivity/marginalization
  • Technology justice
  • Climate justice
  • Intersectional and structural inequalities
  • Governance and citizenship
  • Contestation
  • Socio-technical imaginaries and normative projects for social change
  • Research collaborations

This year’s annual conference (our 6th) is the first during the new phase of funding under DFID’s Transforming Energy Access programme. In this, the LCEDN has a role in consolidating existing relationships and collaborations among relevant UK academics and researchers, policy communities, NGOs and the private sector, and is extending partnerships in the global south for skills development. This conference is an opportunity to network, learn and develop partnerships across sectors.

The full programme is available HERE.

Registration for the conference is open until the deadline of Thursday 7th September at 13:00 GMT – please register here.


Conference: “Beyond Oil”, Bergen, Oct 25-27, 2017.

The next “Beyond Oil” conference will be held in Bergen, Oct 25-27, 2017.

Society is inevitably moving beyond oil. The direction that this transformation will take is still highly uncertain. Transformations to societies beyond oil involve deliberate choices that lead to different outcomes with regards to power, justice, inequality and human-nature relations. A task for social scientists is to analyze the structures of inertia and capacities for change in current societies, and highlight the multiple futures that these make possible.

As research moves from studying problems to proposing pathways and solutions, we therefore need to critically interrogate the particular solutions that are proposed and how they relate to the futures we wish to mobilize. As academics, we also need to consider our own role in transformations – whether as catalysts, participants, critics, or knowledge producers. We welcome researchers from a variety of research fields connected to the topics above.


See the detailed program here.


Other information

Dates and venue

Oct 25–27, 2017 in Bergen, Norway

Litteraturhuset in Bergen, Østre Skostredet 5-7



For accommodation, there are a number of nearby hotels. For example Scandic ByparkenHotel Park and Grand Terminus. There are also budget options in Bergen, like P-Hotels or Marken Guesthouse. 



Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Energy & Social Science

Interdisciplinary Lecturer or Senior Lecturer in Energy & Social Science

University of Edinburgh – College of Science and Engineering

University of Edinburgh is seeking to appoint a Lecturer/ Senior Lecturer in Energy & Social Science. We seek to recruit an outstanding candidate with an excellent, international research profile to join the Geography and the Lived Environment Research Institute and complement our existing expertise on the social and societal aspects of energy transitions. We are looking for an outgoing and collegiate candidate to further bolster the School of Geosciences’ reputation as a key contributor to energy related research and knowledge exchange across campus, the city of Edinburgh, Scotland and the UK. This post provides the candidate with opportunities to participate in a vibrant and growing research community (the cross-college Energy & Society Research Group), pursue knowledge exchange activities through the award-winning Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, collaborate on large-scale projects (e.g. the UoE Zero-Carbon Climate Plan; Edinburgh/SE Scotland City Region Deal; Research Councils UK’s Energy Programme and Global Challenges Research Fund) and develop a research-informed teaching portfolio (e.g. on our MA in Human Geography and our new MSc in Energy, Society and Sustainability).

We are looking for a candidate with a proven ability to work across disciplinary boundaries and with stakeholders from government, industry and/or civil society.

Candidates should hold a PhD in a relevant discipline, have teaching experience and a publication record commensurate with career stage.

Presentations and Interviews will take place on 2nd & 3rd October 2017.

This is full time and open-ended post which is available from 1st of January 2018 or earlier if possible.

Salary: Lecturer UE08 £39,324 – £46,924 per annum / Senior Lecturer UE09 £49,772 – £55,998 per annum

Closing date: Thursday 31st August 2017 at 5pm (GMT)

More details here:

CFP – Book on Energy Politics (EASA book series – Berghahn)

Dear Colleagues,

We are looking for contributors to submit abstracts to be included in a book proposal on Energopolitics for the Berghahn EASA book series. 

The edited volume aims to compile cases and analysis dealing with contemporary arrangements of energy infrastructures and political power. We believe that the current transformations of energy systems and policy frameworks offer promising prospects to revisit some of the classic notions of power and politics through the lens of energy infrastructures. Dominique Boyer has underlined the opportunity to rethink Foucault’s theory of power in the light of energy: “there could have been no consolidation of any regime of modern biopower without a parallel securitization of energy provision and synchronization of energy discourse. In this respect, biopower has always been plugged in” (Boyer, 2014:327). Other conceptions of modern politics would also deserve reconsideration, interrogating the entanglements between energy materialities and political power: 

  • State violence and governmentality
  • Statecraft and political ordering
  • Citizenship and collective action,
  • Local governance and politics,
  • Labor struggles within the energy industry,
  • Regional integration and geopolitics,
  • Expert knowledge and depoliticisation, etc.

As an expression of interest, you will find below a suggestion of topics that we would like to address in the book. Abstracts of max. 500 words should be sent to ; ; by Friday 30th June. Please include contact details with the abstract. In the case of acceptance, full papers will be expected by Friday 29th September.

Looking forward for your valuable contribution.

 Kind regards,

Simone Abram, Nathalie Ortar, Tristan Loloum



Editors: Simone ABRAM, Tristan LOLOUM, Nathalie ORTAR

Energy citizenships. The current transformations of energy systems have prompted new discussions among social scientists about power infrastructures as forms and supports of political expression. The evidence of climate change, the development of renewables and the governmental engagements toward an energy transition have created new spaces for resistance, participation and innovation. These emerging energy citizenships include concerns for off-grid systems, the setting up of community renewable energy projects, collective ownership and alternative funding of power infrastructures, equity and justice in energy access, climate change, policies and protests over (non-)renewables, “smart” technologies, etc. While allegedly “empowering” consumers within competitive energy markets, the liberalization of gas and electricity sectors is also dispossessing the State from important prerogatives and strengthening private energy actors. The emergence of decentralized energy and off-grid systems, as substitutes for centralized grids, is not only an engineering challenge but also an organizational one. As electric grids tend to become less “national” and less “centralized”, aren’t they generating more social differentiation?  How do decentralized energy and off-grid initiatives affect local governance, political identities and regional integration?

Energy statecraft. A political anthropology of energy assumes that power infrastructures are pivots for socio-political inquiry, as they have the capacity to “create, destroy, expand or limit the contours of what we call the state” (Meehan, 2014: 2016). In Carbon Democracy, Timothy Mitchell described, for instance, how the late 19th century labor reforms depended on the coal industry and its concentration of unionized workers; how Keynesian welfarism was sustained by an oil-shaped faith in the endless growth of national economies; and how neoliberal politics arose in great part from the brutal disruption of growth caused by the oil shocks of the 1970s. In doing so, he reminds us how statecraft is dependent on systems of energy production.

Energy knowledge. Not only is energy at the core of many economic interests, geopolitical struggles and international relations, it is also central to modernist ideologies and neoliberal narratives. The evolutionist idea that “cultural development varies directly as the amount of energy per capita per year harnessed and put to work” (White, 1943: 338) is deeply rooted in western imaginaries. Electrification is still promoted (e.g. by the UN) as a prerequisite to access both modernity and global markets (Labban, 2012). Energy relies on powerful belief systems and expert knowledge. The expansion of electric grids has often been depicted as an “inevitable” movement by energy experts (Nader, 2004: 775), only limited by technical problems and economic constraints. The practice of “rendering technical” (Li, 2007) has long been essential in the techno-scientific governance of energy, but the disruption of oil shocks, nuclear accidents and climate change have eroded  faith in modern expertise, while the development of renewable energies has shown that new paths of development remain possible. A political anthropology of energy must therefore “analyze the culture of energy experts, enhance knowledge about how people understand and experience energy, and document small renewable energy successes” (Clarke, 2015: 215).

Energy governmentality. Following Boyer (2014) (following Foucault 1978) , the political power behind energy systems – what he calls “energopower” – relies on a mixture of material infrastructures, institutions and discourses of truth. The work of Douglas Rogers (2014) on “social and cultural projects” accomplished under the banner of “corporate social responsibility” (CSR) by the Russian oil-company Lukoil illustrates how energy providers are increasingly solicited to fulfill political missions. Energopolitics refers not only to the capacity of energy corporations to shape basic infrastructures and legal frameworks, but also their involvement in activities of knowledge production, social care and cultural sponsorship. In postcolonial contexts, modern governance of energy resources is often tangled with more direct and authoritarian forms of power. So energopower, as Raminder Kaur argues, should be qualified, from Foucauldian notions of soft power and “governmentality” to what she calls the “necropolitics” or “raw politics of energy” (Kaur, 2013).


Boyer, D. (2014) Energopower: an introduction. Anthropological Quarterly 87(2): 309-333.

Clarke, Mari H. (2015) Interrogating Power: Engaged Energy Anthropology, Reviews in Anthropology, 44:4, 202-224, DOI: 10.1080/00938157.2015.1116325

Foucault, Michel. 1978. The History of Sexuality, Vol. 1: The Will to Knowledge. London: Penguin.

Kaur, Raminder 2013 ‘Sovereignty without Hegemony, the Nuclear State and a “Secret Public Hearing” in India’, Theory, Culture and Society, May 2013, 20(3).

Labban, M. (2012) Preempting possibility: critical assessment of the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2010. Development and Change 43(1): 375-393.

Li, T. M. (2007) The Will to Improve: Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.

Meehan, K. (2014) Tool-power: Water infrastructure as well springs of state power. Geoforum, 57: 25-224.

Mitchell, T. (2011) Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. London: Verso Books.

Nader, L. 2004. “The Harder Path—Shifting Gears.” Anthropological Quarterly 77(4):771-791.

Rogers, Douglas. 2014. “Energopolitical Russia: corporation, state, and the rise of social and cultural projects”. Anthropological Quarterly. 87 (2): 431-452.

White, Leslie. 1943. “Energy and the Evolution of Culture.” American Anthropologist 45(3):335-356.



CFP for ERSS: Problems of method in the social study of energy and climate change

CFP for Energy Research and Social Science 

Edited by James Goodman and Jonathan Paul Marshall, University of Technology Sydney

Energy and climate change are intimately related, as the main causes of climate change have to do with the production, politics, organisation and technology of energy. Social processes, rooted in prevailing models of capitalism and development, and the associated patterns of energyproduction and use, are altering world ecology and society. Researching questions of energy transition and climate change, poses profound questions for the methods of both social science and energy research.

This Special Issue aims to explore insights arising from how we go about researching energy and climate change from a social perspective. The questions and dilemmas that arise during research are both significant in themselves, and highly revealing of wider issues. Consequently we ask contributors to begin with their direct experience of undertaking research into the social aspects of energy and climate, and to use that experience, and the problems of method evoked, to explore the conundrums we face as part of a wider society being transformed by climate change and related forms of social action.

There are several matters which immediately call for attention:

  1. There are questions about the role of interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary or multi-methods research in grappling with interwoven socio-ecological contexts and their different knowledges;
  2. The extent to which climate and energy research necessarily engages with normative priorities and agendas for political agency, such as the politicization of knowledge;
  3. The degree to which the abstracted and distanced character of climate change creates conflicts between levels and aspects of social action.

There are also more practical issues such as:

  1. How to combine ecological processes with social processes;
  2. How to relate the qualitative experience of climate change with the quantitative ‘big data’ of climate science; and
  3. Problems of how to build methods of data collection and analysis in complex, multileveled situations.

This list of possible concerns is not meant to be exhaustive, but all these concerns engage, in one way or another, with the wider methodological and epistemological questions of how social scientists can bring the socio-ecological imagination to bear, to address the political relations between energy and climate change, and be sensitive to the consequences of the tools they employ. We are interested in papers from all kinds of social and cross-disciplinary research, including anthropology, economics, social psychology, political economy, statistical sociology, political science, cultural studies, social ecology, human geography, social studies of science and their various combinations.

Ideally papers would show how issues of method or methodology transformed a particular empirical study and opened insights into the nature of the social, and other, dynamics involved.

Time Table

Abstracts to be in by August 1st, 2017. Notification of acceptance by August 15th, 2017.

Papers due by November 1st, 2017, or earlier.

Final decision: June 1st, 2018.

Publication around July, 2018.


Please send abstracts to: &

Call for Abstracts: 2nd Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS) 2018

2nd Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS) 2018

23-27 January 2018, National University of Lesotho

On occasion of NULSTICE 2018



With more than 600 million Africans living without access to electricity and over 730 million relying on dangerous, inefficient forms of cooking, fast but sustainable development of African renewable energy markets is needed. Applied research and innovative business roll-outs play a key role in boosting this development, helping to secure energy supply in both rural and urban areas, increase generation capacities and energy system resilience. In March 2016, the RECP organized the first Africa-EU Renewable Energy Research and Innovation Symposium (RERIS 2016) in Tlemcen, Algeria. Attended by 135 participants from 30 countries, the symposium was a big step towards better research cooperation for renewable energy on and between the two continents.


Symposium scope and objectives

Based on the outcomes of the first symposium, the Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP) and the National University of Lesotho (NUL) are jointly organising the second Africa-EU Symposium on Renewable Energy Research and Innovation (RERIS 2018) from 23–27 January 2018 in Maseru, Lesotho. The symposium will take place on the occasion of the NUL International Science and Technology Innovation Conference and Expo (NULSTICE 2018).

The objectives of the research symposium are to

  • Facilitate Africa-EU renewable energy research collaboration
  • Increase public and private sector participation in renewable energy research
  • Build capacities for applied research and promote university business spin-offs

A call for abstracts is preceding the symposium, targeting researchers from Africa and Europe involved in research or business roll-outs on the following topics:

  • Grid connected renewable energy
  • Decentralised renewable and household energy solutions
  • Energy socioeconomics (e.g. policy, economics, legal, regulatory and social issues)
  • Promotion of energy research, innovation, education and entrepreneurship

For more info on the symposium and call for abstracts, visit

Symposium organisers and partners (tbc) 

  • LCEDN (Low Carbon Energy for Development Network)
  • Micro Energy International
  • PAU (Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences)
  • RECP (Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme)
  • UniPID (Finnish University Partnership for International Development)


Symposium committee

Conference chair

  • Dr Moeketsi Mpholo, Energy Research Centre (ERC) / National University of Lesotho (NUL)

Scientific committee

  • Benmansour Abdelhalim, Université Aboubekr Belkaid de Tlemcen, Algeria
  • Venkata Ramayya Ancha, Jimma University, Ethiopia
  • Dr Ed Brown, Loughborough University, United Kingdom
  • Thameur Chaibi, National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water and Forestry, Tunisia
  • Seladji Chakib, Université Aboubekr Belkaid de Tlemcen, Algeria
  • Dr Zivaye Chiguvare, Namibia University of Science and Technology, Namibia
  • Emanuela Colombo, Politecnico di Milano, Italy
  • Abdellah Khellaf, Centre de Développement des Energies Renouvelables, Algeria
  • Izael Pereira Da Silva, Strathmore University, Kenya
  • Daniel  Egbe, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Austria
  • Thomas Hamacher, Technische Universität München, Germany
  • Angeles López Agüera, UNESCO-CLRLA / Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • Martin Meyer-Renschhausen, Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany tbc
  • Dr Joseph Mutale, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  • Wikus van Niekerk, Stellenbosch University, South Africa
  • Armando C. Oliveira, University of Porto, Portugal
  • Marco Rupprich, MCI – The Entrepreneurial School®, Austria
  • Wim Sinke, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands tbc
  • Abdelilah Slaoui, University of Strasbourg, France
  • Anthony Staak, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), South Africa tbc
  • Dr Dirk Steuerwald, Swiss Academy for Development, Switzerland
  • Dr Sandor Szabo, European Commission Joint Research Centre, Italy
  • Dr Zak Thamae, National University of Lesotho (NUL), Lesotho
  • Dr Daniel Yamegueu, International Institute for Water and Environmental Engineering (2iE), Burkina Faso
  • Abdellatif Zerga, Pan African University Institute of Water and Energy Sciences (PAUWES), Algeria

Organising committee

  • Niklas Hayek, Africa-EU Renewable Energy Cooperation Programme (RECP)
  • Himanshu Narayan, National University of Lesotho (NUL)
  • Dr Thimothy Thamae, National University of Lesotho (NUL)


2 PhD studentships + 2 part-time post-doctoral posts at Durham University


Two PhD studentships at Durham Anthropology

Two PhD studentships in the dept of Anthropology at Durham University to start in October 2017:

 – Energy and Heritage Conservation: the project will focus on sites of significant conservation challenges that can also be used to promote new energy technologies and practices. Supported by Historic England
– Ethical design for energy systems: The project will examine where and how normative assumptions are embedded in energy systems design and how ethical discourses can be developed to highlight the implications of energy system design. Supported by Ofgem.
Applications should be made through the ‘Northern Bridge’ website below, and project outlines and guidance are attached. Applicants are encouraged to contact the lead academic for the relevant projects prior to making an application.  Deadline for applications 30 June 2017.

We would be very grateful for any assistance in alerting potential students for this urgent call for applications.

Two part-time post-doctoral posts at Durham Anthropology

 Dept of Anthropology and Durham Energy Institute at Durham are pleased to invite applications for two new part-time post-doctoral posts that could be combined into one 3-year post-doctoral fellowship.

One post is a PDRA in energy systems integration. The post is funded through the £20m National Centre for Energy Systems Integration (CESI), funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Siemens and Newcastle University. The research fellow will work with Dr Simone Abram applying principles and approaches of Science and Technology Studies to the energy systems modelling process. They will work closely with other centre researchers in assessing the limitations and ethics of energy-systems modelling, exploring solutions to lacunas in whole-system models and assessing the ethical implications of modelling choices for future system-users. This work will contribute to a whole-systems architecture, ensuring that insights from social science and policy analysis are integrated through the centre’s activities. It will draw on the work of the End-Use-Energy-Demand centres across all disciplines. The fellowship will include a period of ethnographic fieldwork on smart grid experimentation.

The other post is to assist in developing case study projects associated with an Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance between 4 European universities and partners, in Amsterdam, Prague and Lubljana (<>). The researcher will report to Dr Simone Abram and Prof Sandra Bell, managing co-creation camps, liaising with industry partners and international partners.

Enquiries should be addressed to Dr Simone Abram at the address below.

Latest jobs / grants announcements

Research Associate/Post-doc : Department of Community Sustainability, The Center for Global Change and Earth Observation, Michigan State University, USA.




Call for applications for twelve PhD grants on Energy and Environment Solutions at Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour (UPPA), France.




Job opportunities in Grenoble (France). Closing date June 1.

Photography exhibition – Through the Lens: Energy Access Stories of Solar Home System Users in Rwanda

Through the Lens: Energy Access Stories of Solar Home System Users in Rwanda.

A photography exhibition (by Iwona Bisaga (UCL))

This project aims to give voice to those relying on off-grid solar systems for electricity by engaging with end-users and households through a series of energy mapping discussions and participatory photography. 20 households have taken part, taking photos and sharing their stories of getting access to energy, energy needs and aspirations, and what energy access means to them, whether they live off the grid in remote, rural areas, or closer to the existing infrastructure.

There are very few ways in which rural communities’ voices on gaining access to basic services such as energy can be heard and this project allows to bridge that gap. Each photo tells a story and each story reveals a different aspect of energy access realities in a country where over 70% of the population still live off the grid.
Through the Lens builds on Iwona Bisaga’s PhD research focusing on the users of off-grid Solar Home Systems in Rwanda which she is conducting in collaboration with BBOXX. It has been funded by UCL Public Engagement Unit Beacon Bursary.

When? Opening night on May 5th at 6:30pm. Exhibition will stay open to public until June 3rd 2017.


More info on the Facebook page