Ethnographies of Power. A Political Anthropology of Energy

Energy related infrastructures are crucial to political organization. They shape the contours of states and international bodies, as well as corporations and communities, framing their material existence and their fears and idealisations of the future. Ethnographies of Power brings together ethnographic studies of contemporary entanglements of energy and political power. Revisiting classic anthropological notions of power, it asks how changing energy related infrastructures are implicated in the consolidation, extension or subversion of contemporary political regimes and discovers what they tell us about politics today.


Introduction: Politicizing Energy Anthropology
Tristan Loloum, Simone Abram and Nathalie Ortar

Chapter 1. Southern Spectrums: The Raw to the Smooth Edges of Energopower
Raminder Kaur

Chapter 2. Ecuadorian Amazonia amidst Energy Transitions
Chris Hebdon

Chapter 3. ‘Nepal’s Water, the People’s Investment’? Hydropolitical Volumes and Speculative Refrains
Austin Lord and Matthäus Rest

Chapter 4. Energopolitics in Times of Climate Change: Productive and Unproductive Politics of Energy Infrastructures in Poland
Aleksandra Lis

Chapter 5. The Earth is Trembling, and We Are Shaken: Governmentality and Resistance in the Groningen Gas Field
Elisabeth N. Moolenaar

Chapter 6. Delving at the Core of Everyday Life: Between Power Legacies and Political Struggles, the Case of Wood-Burning Stoves in France
Nathalie Ortar

Afterword: People Thinking Energetically
Leo Coleman

Ethnographies of Power Edited by Tristan Loloum, Simone Abram and Nathalie Ortar is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) with support from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Ethnographies of Power is the first edited volume of the Energy Anthropology Network.

Cfp: Recapturing Resources: Politics of Resourcing and Reconfigurations of Extractivism

Joint Workshop of the dgv Working Group “Europeanization_Globalization. Ethnographies of the Political”, DGSKA Regional Group “Europe,” and the Center for Interdisciplinary Regional Studies (ZIRS) at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg with

Jamie Cross (The University of Edinburgh) and Gisa Weszkalnys (London School of Economics)
25-26 June 2020
Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

The workshop is jointly organized by Jens Adam (University of Göttingen), Katja Müller (MLU Halle), Felix Schiedlowski (MLU Halle), Andreas Streinzer (Goethe University Frankfurt/Main), Jelena Tosic (University St. Gallen) and Asta Vonderau (MLU Halle).

An awareness of climate change and its disastrous effects is by now widespread in media, as well as in academic and political debates. It prompts the question of how we are to achieve a sustainable future. How can today’s societies be reshaped in regard to energy consumption and resource extraction? How may new natural resouces and ways of energy supply be discovered? What political decisions and technological innovations are required? And what social and environmental consequences will such transformations have in various parts of the world?

Given the fact that western “carbon democracies” (Timothy Mitchell) are not only based on, but also shaped by fossile energy and natural resource extractivism, such futures seem to be difficult if not impossible to think of. At the same time, it is obvious that extractivim is not inherently coupled with democratic societies; rather, it flexibly integrates with different political systems to form multiple and changing configurations of capitalism in various places and over changing periods of time. Furthermore, extractivism not only shapes landscapes and lifestyles in capitalist economies, but also lifeworlds and environments which appear – at least at first sight – not as part of capitalist economic zones, as for instance off the grid communities or non-industrial places which still might experience effects of extractivism.

Within anthropology, different schools and methodological approaches including political economy, political ecology, marxist or STS inspired anthropology have dealt with resources in different ways. These lines of thought often existed parallel to each other. Our workshop aims to think through these different perspectives in relational ways. Following Richardson and Weszkalnys (2014), we aim to think beyond a “methodological modernism” which studies natural resources exclusively as isolated entities and commodities within the frame of capitalist economies. In line with Jamie Cross (Cross 2014; Cross and Murray 2018) we want to avoid limiting us to binaries such as commodity/waste, modernization/decline, scarcity/abundance by considering a range of possible conditions and creative activities which fill the space between these assumed extremes, such as modes of care, reuse, and repair. We thus understand natural resources as formed through a relational performance of productive generative powers (including the powers of capitalism and inequality) that exceed formal economic models (Cross, Muray 2018). The workshop focusses on, but is not limited to, the following thematical issues:

1. Resource Materialities: The Becoming of Resource Environments
2. (Re-)configurations of Extractivism and their Temporalities
3. Relational Geographies of Extractivism and Resourcing
4. Politics if Resourcing: Values and Valuations

We cordially invite scholars working on or interested in the above-mentioned questions to join the workshop. This workshop is based on various discussion formats, joint readings and keynotes. Accordingly, workshop participants are not expected to prepare an individual presentation. Interested participants are, however, invited to propose a 5-7 Minutes problem-oriented input based on their own research which may serve as a starting point for joint discussions of the methodological and other questions raised. There is no participation fee to be paid. Travel and accomodation costs cannot be covered by the organizers.

The workshop  will take place at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, it begins on Thursday, June 25th at 1p.m. and ends on Friday 26th of June at 3.30 p.m. The workshop has an interactive format and is based on different forms of discussion and dialogue with the keynote speakers and other participants, as well as on inputs from young scholars research projects and common readings. The detailed program and readings will be sent to registered participants later. 

In order to register please contact:

Postdoc position in the Energy Transition Dynamics group at the Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies in Potsdam

The Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS) is an international, interdisciplinary center of excellence located in Potsdam, Germany. The IASS is financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Federal State of Brandenburg and devoted to promoting science and research for global sustainability, particularly in the areas of climate change, the earth system and the development of new technologies and social pathways to sustainability. Further information about the IASS can be accessed under The IASS is looking for a PostDoc (100%) (f/m/d) with a social scientific background for the project TIPPING+ (Enabling positive tipping points towards clean-energy transitions in coal and carbon intensive regions) Reference Number: TIPPINGPLUS-2020-01The successful applicant will contribute to the EU-funded (Horizon 2020) TIPPING+ project,working closely with the project leader Prof. Johan Lilliestam in the Energy Transition Dynamics (ETD) group.

The ETD group investigates policies and strategies for the complete decarbonisation of the electricity system using only or almost only renewables. More information about the group can be found here: At the core of TIPPING+ stand carbon-intensive regions: areas that are currently strongly dependent on single carbon-intensive activity, such as coal mining or carbon-intense manufacturing, and thus face a potentially far-reaching transformation as Europe seeks to decarbonise energy and industry to fulfil its commitment under the Paris Agreement. In this, TIPPING+ will further our theoretical and empirical understanding of social tipping points in carbon-intensive regions: what causes a carbon-intensive region to fall into decline or to bounce back onto a new positive social and economic trajectory? What can policy do to mitigate negative social and economic effects? To this end, we will investigate social and economic patterns and trends in regions relying strongly on activities that are threatened by stringent climate policy and identify interventions that can help these regions to transform as these industries change or disappear.

The IASS work in TIPPING+ will focus on the policy and governance aspects, in particular the possible policy interventions to avoid social and economic decline in currently carbon-intensive regions also in a climate-friendly future. Our work will entail both theoretical/conceptual work and case study analysis. In particular, our work will have a strong component of empirical analysis of past regional transitions – which interventions had which effect in which social and economic context? – in order to understand what can be done in ongoing and future transitions. Parts of our empirical work will be carried out in Germany, for which fluency in German is necessary.


  • Leading the IASS work within the TIPPING+ project together with the Energy Transition Dynamics group leader, and carrying out the tasks and deliverables for which IASS is responsible, in direct collaboration with the work package partners and the ETD team.
  • Specifically, your work will entail
  1. Analysis of the current research frontier regarding social tipping points and, especially, tipping interventions, as the basis for expanding knowledge in this field;
  2. Definition of policy analysis indicators, to be used in the case studies of TIPPING+;
  3. Case study work to empirically inform the indicators and contribute to the deepened understanding of social tipping points. n salary tariff TVÖD E13.
  • Collaboration with project partners at the national, European, and international level.
  • Collaboration with the ETD team, especially to further our ongoing work regarding tipping points in the energy transition.
  • Contribute to the group’s work, including support of PhD students, attract additional externally funded projects.
  • Writing and/or contributing to publications in different formats (mainly peer-reviewed publications and, to the extent required by the project plan, project reports).
  • Societal outreach work and scientific advice (mainly to policy and civil society).


•Finished PhD degree in an energy-related social scientific field (e.g. political science, public policy) or economics, or similar.


  • Documented scientific excellence, documented especially through the publication record;
  • Knowledge of the European energy and climate policy;
  • Fluent written and spoken German;
  • Excellent spoken and written communication skills in English;
  • Ability to work independently and in an interdisciplinary team together with both natural and social scientists.

We offer an interesting and diverse job in an interdisciplinary team and the opportunity to do high-level research on current pressing energy and climate political issues. Working with us will further give you access to a large network of national and international research institutions and civil society organisations in the European energy/climate field, as well an attractive, international working environment with a good working atmosphere. The position will be remunerated in accordance with the German salary group 13 TVöD (Bund).

The position is a full-time position (100%) from April 2020. The position is foreseen for at least 24 months (i.e. until March 2022) and may be extended, if there is sufficient funding. The place of work is Potsdam, Germany.

The IASS seeks to achieve gender equality and diversity. We encourage applicants of diverse backgrounds. Applications of disabled persons with equal qualifications will be regarded favourably.

If you are interested in this position, we look forward to receiving your application, including a letter of motivation, CV and a writing sample (in English). Please submit your complete application, combined in a single PDF file no larger than 5 MB to Darina Karaivanova-Saase ( citing the Ref. No. given above in the subject line.

Evaluations of applications will begin on 17 February 2020 but applications will be received until the position is filled. Please specify in your application how you became aware of the offered position at the IASS.For questions regarding the IASS and the application process, please contact Darina Karaivanova-Saase (+49 331 28822 320). For further information and details on this position please contact Johan Lilliestam (Tel.: +49 331 28822-393).

If personal interviews are scheduled, travel costs cannot be reimbursed.

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

CFP ERQ 2020: Ethnographies of energy production in times of transition

8th Ethnography and Qualitative Research Conference

University of Bergamo, Bergamo, Italy

3-6 June 2020

Ethnographies of energy production in times of transition

Panel Organizers : Noura AlKhalili (Lund University) and Gloria Pessina (Politecnico di Milano)

We invite contributions on cases from the Global South and North. If you are interested to join our panel, please send an abstract (max 1000 words) including the title of the paper and your affiliation to, and by January 10th 2020. For more detailed info on submission check this link:

Panel Description

Keywords: electric power stations; energy transition; large-scale renewable energy plants; energy justice; workplace ethnographies.

Emerging disciplines such as the Energy Humanities (Szeman & Boyer 2017) are currently showing the need to overcome strict scientific boundaries in order to grasp the complexity of the current socio-economic and ecological transition at multiple geographical scales. It is in this framework that recent studies on energy ethnography have taken place (Smith & High 2017; Goodman 2018), mostly with the aim of shedding light on the social and material dimension of apparently invisible energy infrastructures. Only few studies adopted an ethnographic approach to research on energy production places (Bougleux 2012), be it traditional workplaces such as thermoelectric (or nuclear) power stations or more recently renewable energy power plants and territories, probably due to the difficulty of accessing the field. Several researches engaged with the ethnography of energy consumption, investigating values, practices and habits of the end-users (Strauss et. al 2013), while others paid more attention to the impacts on everyday life of mineral extraction and energy production, especially in the Global South (Sawyer 2014; Howe & Boyer 2016).

Lately, emerging research is tackling EU’s decarbonisation strategy and mitigation of climate change through investigating transition to renewable energies. Specifically, the Saharan desert of North Africa is perceived as a vast untapped supply of nearby renewable energy. Equally, North African countries are highly interested in energy transitions to renewables for both domestic use and export. There is not much research around large-scale renewable energy production schemes and only a few studies mention issues of land ownership and the presence of communities in these areas (Rignall 2016).

Clearly, more empirical research – and ethnographic – is needed to focus on culture, power, social relations and the people’s lived experiences in and around energy production plants. Ethnography is crucial so to bring to the fore elements such as gender differences and other less visible power relations in the context of study. It also helps to contextualize the ontological positions and subjectivities of people and gives local meaning to the relation to technology, society and environment. Therefore, this call for papers invites either ethnographic or qualitative contributions that deal with themes around energy transition and climate justice, highlighting aspects related to communities around both renewable and traditional energy production plants, issues of land enclosures, manufacturing processes, local participation for just energy production and transfer.

Open questions:

1. How is energy produced in times of ecological transition and economic crisis?

2. How can energy production work be observed and described by ethnographers?

3. What is the role of the human work in traditional and renewable energy production? How does it interact with machine work?

4. Which power relations characterize traditional energy production workplaces (e.g. thermoelectric power stations) and renewable energy production territories (e.g. solar power plants)?

5. Which forms of local resistance to new energy production plants or to the dismantling of underused traditional plants can be recognized?

6. To what extent do energy production workplaces and territories shed light on the current socio-economic conjuncture?

7. Which territories are currently emerging in the global energy production geography? Which are declining?

8. To what extent large-scale renewable energy production schemes are bound to be a new form of exploitation?


Bougleux E., 2012,Soggetti egemoni e saperi subalterni. Etnografia in una multinazionale del settore dell’energia, Firenze: Nardini.

Goodman J., 2018, “Researching climate crisis and energy transition: Some issues for ethnography”,Energy Research & Social Science, 45: 340-347.

Howe C., Boyer D., 2016, “Aeolian extractivism and community win in Southern Mexico”,Public Culture, 28 (2(79)): 215-235.

Huber M., 2015, “Energy and social power. From political ecology to the ecology of politics”. In: Perreault T., Bridge G., Mac Carthy J. (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Political Ecology, Oxon: Routledge.

Rignall, K., 2016, “Solar Power, State Power, and the Politics of Energy Transition in Pre-Saharan Morocco”, Environment and Planning A, 48(3):540–557.

Sawyer S., 2014, Crude Chronicles. Indigenous Politics, Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism in Ecuador, Durham: Duke University Press.

Smith J., High M.M., 2017, “Exploring the anthropology of energy: Ethnography, energy and ethics”,Energy Research & Social Science, 30: 1-6. 

Strauss S., Rupp S., Love T., 2013,Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies, London: Routledge.

Szeman I., Boyer D., 2017, Energy Humanities: An Anthology, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

Cfp: EASA 2020 conference

16th EASA Biennial Conference
New anthropological horizons in and beyond Europe
21-24 July 2020 in Lisbon
ISCTE-University Institute of Lisbon and ICS-Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon

P020 At the grid edge: homes, neighbourhoods and energy markets (Energy Anthropology Network)

Convenors: Charlotte Johnson (University College London), Abhigyan Singh (Delft University of Technology (TU Delft))

Across Europe the grid edge has become a site of innovation, experimentation and legal exception. Extra-regulatory markets such as peer-to-peer energy trading are being trialled. Algorithms and control systems are being piloted to automate household appliances. Communities are becoming virtual power plants. The emerging distributed, decentralised, and off-grid energy systems profoundly challenge the universalist logic of national energy infrastructures and create an urgent role for anthropological knowledge. Anthropologists are entering these spaces to critique and to intervene. They question the assumptions supporting energy market construction and bring attention to non-market perspectives. They interrogate the inter- and intra-household dynamics that are created and destabilised as new flows of energy interact with existing gender, class and power relations. They examine the ethics, moralities, and values that are implicated and invoked. They are working in interdisciplinary ways, using interventionist approaches and are challenging the creation of binaries that pit automation against human control. In this panel we discuss this as a new horizon for anthropological inquiry. One that is provoked by the changing ways energy is being negotiated within homes, circulated through neighbourhoods, and getting entangled in local markets. We invite papers that critique ‘low carbon transition’, provide ethnographic accounts of energy, or offer methodological innovations for collaborative, experimental or interdisciplinary working. We are particularly interested in insights from global south contexts and its cross-cultural comparison with the ‘smart energy’ narrative in the global north. Overall, we invite broad critical engagement with issues raised by doing anthropology at the grid edge.

P037 Mining the Energy Transition: Technology, Resource Chains, and Extractive Encounters

Convenors:     Nikkie Wiegink (Utrecht University),     Angela Kronenburg García (UCLouvain (Belgium))

The energy transition from a fossil fuel-based system to a low-carbon future has engendered new technologies and is changing consumer patterns across the world. Less known is that the energy transition is restructuring the extractive sector due to new policies and increasing demand for metals and minerals needed in low-carbon technologies (Addison 2018). This panel explores new horizons by linking two sub-fields of anthropology: the anthropology of energy and the anthropology of mining, and invites papers to address the energy transition from the perspective of its minerals and metals. Where do the minerals come from that power the batteries from electric vehicles and make wind turbines durable? Who are the new global players in the emerging resource chains? And how can we study these global dynamics ethnographically? How do, for example, ‘energy ethics’ (Smith & High 2017) in Europe relate to ‘mining encounters’ (Pijpers & Eriksen 2019) in the global south? And what kinds of contestations do these encounters engender? We aim to build further on the discussion of ‘energopolitics’ (Boyer 2019) to illuminate and politicize the processes that tend to be obscured by the ‘good’ of the energy transition and the urgency to fight climate change. Our intention is to unravel the tensions, interconnectedness, and ambiguities of extractive encounters at different scales. We welcome submissions based on empirical work or methodological reflections that engage with the technologies, policymaking, mining realities, multi-actor encounters, resource chains and resource booms emerging at the intersections of the energy transition and the extractive industries.

P134 Energy production, environment, and human rights in the context of climate change

Convenors:     Elisabeth Moolenaar (Regis University),     Ana Isabel Afonso (FCSH-Universidade Nova de Lisboa & CICS.NOVA),     Dorle Dracklé (University of Bremen)

One of the goals of the “energy anthropology” is placing energy and the environment in cultural perspective, taking into account meaning (making), relationships, value, and agency. Using ethnography/ethnographic research on energy production can open up a dialogue on urgent matters such as environmental justice, human rights and climate change. This panel deals with struggles over energy production, debates over climate change, and the politics of natural resource extraction within broader socio-cultural contexts. Energy landscapes are sites of power and control. These sites frequently face environmental degradation, ecological disasters, and/or social disintegration or upheaval. Sites of energy production are oftentimes located in less urban areas far away from the sites where most energy is consumed, turning the former into “sacrifice zones.” Local (at times indigenous) populations are most vulnerable because they have acquired less entitlement to the natural resources, through law, economic and political systems, and/or processes of colonization. Energy production affects not only environmental quality but also human rights. Without a livable environment, human rights may become either unachievable or meaningless. Energy production intensifies challenges to populations who are unable to claim rights such as the right to self-determination, sovereignty, or mineral or traditional land rights. We welcome papers that locate environmental justice, human rights, and/or climate change within ethnographic explorations of energy production & consumption and natural resource extraction. Papers might investigate these matters for populations affected by energy production, from the perspective of the researcher, and/or as they inform each other.

P062 The political power of energy futures within and beyond Europe

Convenors:     Charlotte Bruckermann (University of Bergen, Norway),     Kirsten Endres (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology),     Katja Müller (Halle University)

Debates about climate change have long entered political arenas through diplomacy, bureaucracy and regulations as part of worldwide environmental governance. Although global efforts to foster greener energy increasingly supplement resource extractivism, unfolding protests point to the insufficiencies of current measures. This panel asks what political legitimacies and forms of power become possible through renewables’ development and the greening of energy systems. From top-down policymaking regarding energy access to grassroots calls for climate justice, this panel interrogates the policies and politics surrounding renewable energy, and the unintended consequences and alliances in its delivery. Ethnographic investigations in this panel will combine the intertwined complexities of greening energy with abstractions of political power at various scales. Questions could include: How does political decision-making on energy sources unfold, including expanding resource extraction, extending the grid, or developing renewables? What brute materialities of wires, cables, and power plants come into play? How do historic injustices and exclusionary legacies of extraction, production and consumption affect future energy horizons? Do imperatives of greening energy create new role models in energy matters that shift the focus within and beyond Europe? When do debates about local environmental priorities and energy rights undermine or bolster global climate targets? What new forms of precarity and scarcity do large-scale infrastructural impositions by local or international powerholders entail? We welcome contributions that investigate the contradictions and contestations between the persistence of conventional energy systems and the rise of renewables within the complex operations of political power that affect our anticipated energy futures.

Assistant Professor, Durham University

Vacancy reference: anth20-2

Department: Anthropology

Responsible to: Head of Department

Grade: 7-8

Salary range: £33,797- £49,553per annum

Working arrangements: The role is full time but we will consider requests for flexible working arrangements including potential job shares

Opening date: 27/11/2019

Closing date: 24/01/2020

Preferred start date: Successful candidates will ideally be in post by 01/09/2020

The role

We are seeking to appoint up to four Associate Professors in Social Anthropology. Applicants must demonstrate research excellence in the field of Social Anthropology, with the ability to teach our students to an exceptional standard and to fully engage in the services, citizenship and values of the University. The University provides a working and teaching environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate these key principles as part of the assessment process.

We are open to outstanding applications in any area of Social Anthropology. Our department has particular research strengths in energy and environment; expertise and knowledge; aesthetics and material culture; medicine and health; and political anthropology. We are looking to appoint candidates who will complement or synergise with research in these areas.

We are also open to any regional specialisms. We particularly welcome applicants with regional specialisms in the Anthropology of China to help build our teaching, research and postgraduate supervision in this area.

Candidates will be expected to contribute to team-taught core social anthropology modules at level one and two, where our focus is on politics, economics, kinship, religion, the anthropology of health and ethnographic methods. It is expected that successful applicants will be able to contribute strongly to at least two of these areas.

Post-holders will be expected to deliver an advanced Level 3 module on a specialist topic in social anthropology, relating to their own research; they will supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and contribute to Social Anthropology teaching at Master’s level. Successful candidates will be asked to undertake additional duties around teaching, learning and student recruitment within the Department as required. Appointed candidates may be asked to teach on one of our undergraduate field-courses, though this is not a requirement.

The Anthropology Department at Durham University has an outstanding international reputation for teaching, research and student employability. We are one of the largest Anthropology Departments in the UK, with nearly 40 permanent academic staff working across social, evolutionary and health anthropology.

The Department of Anthropology has a vibrant research culture with many visitors, seminars, global conferences and workshops. We aim to foster an intellectually inclusive environment, fostering the academic freedom and confidence to work at both the core and boundaries of anthropology in exciting and innovative ways. We were the top-ranked integrated Anthropology department in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014); fifth in the UK for overall GPA (Times Higher Education); first equal for world-leading and internationally-excellent Impact and Research Environment, and second equal for world- leading publications.

Download the full job description as a PDF.

Energy Ethics 2020

***ENERGY ETHICS 2020***

St Andrews | 1-2 April 2020 | Art | Presentations| Panel Discussion

How can we best balance our need for energy with our concern for climate change? Is there room for morality in energy markets?  What energy futures do we envision and how do we get there?

Global energy demand continues to rise. To meet this demand energy producers are increasingly relying on innovative methods of harvesting energy from fossil fuels, nuclear and renewable sources. At the same time, public concern about the impact of anthropogenic climate change is growing, alongside tense conflicts over the human and environmental impact of energy production, distribution, consumption and waste-handling. This energy predicament raises fundamental questions about what we consider to be right or good, and the kinds of energy futures we envision for ourselves, our communities, and future generations around the world. 

It is our pleasure to invite you to Energy Ethics 2020. This two-day event will address these issues by bringing together artists, industry representatives, politicians, scholars and members of the ERC-funded Energy Ethics team, led by Dr Mette High in the Department of Social Anthropology at University of St Andrews.

What you can look forward to at Energy Ethics 2020:

1 April – The Art of Energy, the Byre Theatre

  1. The Art of Energy Competition will showcase artists’ creative conceptualizations of our climate-energy predicament and visions of life with energy.
  2. The Arts and Energy Reception.
  3. Documentary screening of the “End of an Era?” with Q&A with the filmmaker Paloma Yáñez Serrano.

2 April – Energy Ethics 2020 Symposium, Parliament Hall

  1. Presentations by members the Energy Ethics Team on their ethnographic work at field sites around the world.
  2. Key Note Speakers will include Prof Tobias Haller and Prof Hirokazu Miyazaki.
  3. The International Energy Industry Panel will provide the opportunity to hear perspectives from industry leaders on energy industry challenges, opportunities, and the road ahead. 
  4. Networking opportunities – meet and discuss with participants, presenters and special guests to widen your networks and horizons.

We look forward to seeing you at Energy Ethics 2020 – a fantastic opportunity for conversation, reflection and the exchange of ideas between people in industry, policy, academia and the arts.

Attendance is free but the deadline to register is 20 March 2020.  You can register online at:

For further details, please contact the organizers Anna Rauter and Dr Sean Field at

Cfp: Taking care of energy infrastructures

All energy sessions here

C.7 Taking care of energy infrastructures

Loloum, Tristan, Fürst, Moritz, Bovet, Alain (Université de Lausanne)

The energy transition is often framed in terms of a technological challenge and an engineering problem, involving innovative design, efficient planning, and effective optimization of energy infrastructures and the built environment. This innovation-centric view tends to neglect the fact that ‘change’ often occurs once energy systems are already in place, through incremental adaptations, additions and enhancements. The focus on engineers, planners and designers also puts aside the many actors in charge of operating and maintaining such systems on a daily basis: grid operators, HVAC technicians, facility managers, installers, caretakers, etc.

Drawing on authors like Maria Puig de la Bellacasa (2017), Dona Haraway (2016) and Bruno Latour (2013), we argue that fixing ‘things’ and taking care of energy infrastructure implies more than maintaining their technical functioning: it means caring for the people who use them and their environments, and it requires active engagement, social skills and a sense of concern towards associations between humans and non-humans. The session therefore extends on current debates in science and technology studies and energy social science that (I) observe how classical dichotomies (e.g. between planning and operation, professionals and users, engineers and technicians, people and machines) are maintained, and sometimes contested and reconfigured; (II) investigate energy infrastructure and energy transition at the level of everyday lay and professional care-taking activities, i.e. considering energy practices as situated and culturally embedded realities rather than in terms of dominant paradigms of technological innovation and economic rationality.

This panel session invites contributors from all disciplinary horizons, looking at energy infrastructure “from below and within”, focusing on operation routines, control rooms, repair and maintenance, incremental improvements, “middle actors” (technicians, installers, controllers, caretakers, facility managers), disruption, practices of daily-use and socio-technical encounters. We particularly encourage prospective participants to emphasize the richness of empirical material in their presentations, exhibit visual and/or audio data, or even material objects that can form a basis for a fruitful discussion. If appropriate conditions are in place, the session will be introduced or followed up by a quick tour of the conference venue’s infrastructural backstage and a discussion with one of the building’s facility managers in order to get a concrete grasp of what energy infrastructure is, and what taking care of it actually entails.

The abstract needs to be submitted using the online form. It should not exceed 500 words, max. 5 keywords. Choose the number of the session in which your presentation should be included (Thematic field “Towards Low-Carbon Energy Systems”; session “C.7 Taking care of energy infrastructures”).

Submission deadline for abstracts is January 20, 2020.

KEYWORDS: energy infrastructure, care, operation, repair & maintenance, energy practices

Committee for the history of electricity and energy grants 2019 / 2020

Since 2001, the Committee for the History of Electricity has three objectives focused on the history of electricity: to conductor 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 ofElectricity 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 uponsignature of an convention. 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 fortheses or dissertations written in any other language.

Deadline 28th October 2019.

All the details can be found here.

EAN call for panel

The Call for Panels for the 16th EASA Biennial Conference “New anthropological horizons in and beyond Europe” has been launched.

The EASA conference will be held from 21-24 July, 2020 at the ISCTE-Lisbon University Institute and ICS-Institute of Social Sciences, University of Lisbon.

The official deadline for the call for panels is October 21, 2019. This means we need to have panel abstracts ready well in advance of this date. To have your panel listed as network-affiliated panel, it is necessary to first check with the EAN convenors and this year we will pick out of the proposals the official EAN panel and will affiliate the other selected panel. In the past, we have found network affiliated panels are more likely to be successful than individual submissions, so we’d encourage you to consider submitting an official EAN panel.

Many suggested themes of the conference are highly relevant to issues within energy research. You can find more details about the theme here.

Please send your panel suggestions to the EAN to Simone Abram simone.abram[at] Elisabeth Moolenaar emoolenaar[at] and Nathalie Ortar nathalie.ortar[at] by October 6th. This will ensure we have time to make editorial suggestions as well as find collaborators for your panel suggestion (if need be). If you have any ideas but are unsure how to go about refining them into a panel abstract, by all means contact us to discuss the issue further.

Remember we are not responsible for the decisions of EASA, however we are offering advice and discussion of your panel ideas in order to strengthen the argument. This way we will also have an overview whether panels with similar topics are being proposed.

Please have a look at the conference webpage regarding panel formats, submission rules and other useful info. For those of you who haven’t submitted before. The guidelines state the following:

Submission rules:

  *   Panels should have at least two co-convenors (panel organisers) from different institutions, and ideally from different countries.

  *   At least one of the convenors must have a PhD degree.

  *   Delegates (those attending the conference) may only make one presentation each. It is allowed to be a co-author on additional papers if you are not the one presenting them. In addition, a delegate may also convene once (be that a plenary, panel, lab or roundtable) and be a discussant or a chair in one plenary session, panel, or roundtable. Roundtable participation counts as being a discussant, not a presenter.

  *   All convenors and presenters must be members of EASA (during 2020), and pay their subscription before the conference. You need not conform to this rule when making your proposal, but must address it after your proposal has been accepted.

  *   EASA requires all accepted panels to be open to paper proposals through the website: panels should not be organised as ‘closed’ sessions, although roundtables can be.

  *   When proposing an EASA network panel, please inform the network convenors of your proposal before submitting it. The network name must be appended to the title of the proposed panel. e.g. Latest research in soul kitchens [Anthropology of Food Network].

  *   All attending the conference, including panel convenors, paper presenters, discussants and chairs, will need to register and pay to attend

Selection process:

The Scientific Committee of EASA2020 will decide which proposals to accept based on:

a) compliance with ‘the rules’

b) on clarity, cohesion, reliability and academic rigour (quality) The Scientific Committee will pay attention to different anthropological traditions and topics.

  *   EASA2020 can host a maximum of 2000 delegates, which from experience suggests approximately 180 panels. This is likely to be below 50% of the number of proposals received.

  *   All proposals must be made via the online form.

  *   Proposals should consist of a panel title, a short description of <300 characters, and an abstract of 250 words.

  *   The proposal may also include the names of any chairs or discussants, although these can be added subsequently using the login environment, Cocoa. Please use the convention of Firstname Lastname (Institution). (Where convenors will take these roles, you need not re-enter their names.)

Electrifying Anthropology

Electrifying Anthropology. Exploring Electrical Practices and Infrastructures

Editor(s): Simone Abram, Brit Ross Winthereik, Thomas Yarrow

What kinds of expertise and knowledge relate to electricity, and where is the space for alternative voices? How can the new roles for electricity in social and cultural life be acknowledged? How can we speak about ‘it’ in its own right while acknowledging that electricity is not one thing?

This book re-describes electricity and its infrastructures using insights from anthropology and science and technology studies, raising fascinating questions about the contemporary world and its future. Through ethnographic studies of bulbs, bicycles, dams, power grids and much more, the contributors shed light on practices that are often overlooked, showing how electricity is enacted in multiple ways. Electrifying Anthropology moves beyond the idea of electricity as an immovable force, and instead offers a set of potential trajectories for thinking about electricity and its effects in contemporary society.

With new contributions on an emerging area of research, this timely collection will be of value to students and scholars of anthropology, science and technology studies, geography and engineering.

Table of contents

1. Current Thinking – An Introduction
Simone Abram, Durham University, UK, Brit Winthereik, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark & Tom Yarrow, Durham University, UK

2. Electricity is Not a Noun
Gretchen Bakke, McGill University, Canada

3. Widened Reason and Deepened Optimism: Electricity and Morality in Durkheim’s Anthropology and Our Own
Leo Coleman, Hunter College, USA

4. No Current: Electricity and Disconnection in Rural India
Jamie Cross, University of Edinburgh, UK

5. What the E-bike Tells Us About the Anthropology of Energy
Nathalie Ortar, CNRS, France

6. At the Edge of the Network of Power in Japan, c.1910s-1960s
Hiroki Shin, Birkbeck University London, UK

7. Can the Mekong Speak? On Hydropower, Models and Thing-Power
Casper Bruun Jensen, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark

8. Electrification and the Everyday Spaces of State Power in Postcolonial Mozambique
Joshua Kirshner, University of York, UK & Marcus Power, Durham University, UK

9. Big Grid: The Computing Beast that Preceded Big Data
Canay Özden-Schilling, MIT, USA

10. Touring the Nuclear Sublime: Power Plant Tours as Tools of Government
Tristan Loloum, Lausanne University, Switzerland

11. Afterword: Electricity as Inspiration – Towards Indeterminate Interventions
Sarah Pink, RMIT University, Australia

Energy transition: Does the mountain give birth to a mouse?

5th Energy and Society Conference

Pre-Call for Workshops

Theme: “Energy transition: Does the mountain give birth to a mouse?”

8-10 September 2020, University of Trento, Italy

The fifth Energy and Society Conference and midterm conference of the European Sociological Association Research Network 12 Environment and Society will take place in Trento, Italy, from 8th to 10th September 2020.  We aim to bring together researchers interested in the social dimensions of energy, to exchange insightful ideas and create opportunities for collaboration. We invite contributions from across the social sciences and interdisciplinary research teams working on energy and society issues. The conference is organized in cooperation with ESA RN 12, ISA RN 24, and the Urban Europe Research Alliance (UERA).

With this pre-call we would like to invite proposals for workshops that will then be announced in the call for papers to be issued after the ESA conference 2019 in Manchester.

Workshops are meant to discuss a specific issue reflecting the conference theme, or the contribution of social analysis to energy research and policy. The discussion should be based on short inputs, and actively involve participants. Interactive formats are highly encouraged.

The usual call for abstracts as well as for contributions to the chosen workshops will be published in October 2019.

In your submission, please indicate the topic of the proposed workshop as well as the planned format of the workshop. Please indicate if you call for contributions from conference participants via abstracts (mentioning possible topics and formats). We will include this then in the cfp.

 Please send your proposals for workshops until the 15th of September to: energysociety[add] (Pia Laborgne)

We are looking forward to many interesting contributions and fruitful exchange.

Contact for further questions:

Responsible for local organization: Natalia Magnani (University of Trento) natalia.magnani[add]

If attending the ESA, you are invited to approach us there with your workshop ideas and questions (e.g. at the business meeting of RN 12).

Permanent associate professor in climate and energy transformation

A permanent position as associate professor of political science/public policy within climate and energy transformation in Bergen, Norway.

The position is with Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation, and hosted by the Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen. It requires a PhD in political science, public policy or other social sciences with relevance for the Department. Energy geographers who have sufficiently strong background in this realm may qualify.

Associate professor at the Department of Administration and Organization Theory within climate and energy transformation

We welcome you to apply for a full-time permanent tenured position as Associate Professor at the Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen, within the field of climate and energy transformation. The Department of Administration and Organization Theory hosts the position, in collaboration with the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET). The position will contribute to strengthening research, education and project development at the Department and CET within climate and energy transformation, which is a priority area at the University of Bergen.

The Department of Administration and Organization Theory<> combines political science with an organizational approach to public policy, public administration, and political institutions.

The Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET)<> is an interdisciplinary research centre aiming at producing actionable knowledge about how to achieve deep, rapid and sustainable transformation of society to meet the climate challenge.

Applicants are advised to consult and make themselves familiar with the teaching and research profile of the department as well as CET. Please see:

We seek a dedicated candidate with collaborative skills to engage in research, supervision and teaching at the Department and CET. Personal aptitude will be important for the position. Among the qualifications we seek are:

 *   A Ph.D. in political science, public administration or other social sciences, with relevance for the Department’s profile.
 *   A strong academic background and documented expertise within the profile of the Department and with a documented specialization within the field of climate change, energy transition and/or societal transformation. This implies a demonstrated ability to publish research at a high international level beyond the PhD dissertation.

Application deadline: 15 September, 2019. Please find more information about the position at Jobbnorge:

SIAA Call for papers

Call for Papers for a panel on Smart City and Sustainability at the next SIAA (Italian Society for Applied Anthropology) annual meeting in Ferrara, Italy (12-14 December 2019).

City 3.0 is on its way: The ‘Smart City’ model between resistance and adaptation
Mara Benadusi, anthropologist, University of Catania, Department of Political and Social Sciences
Luca Ruggiero, geographer, University of Catania, Department of Political and Social Sciences

“Out of an experience of the cities came an experience of the future”, Raymond Williams (1975: 23)
After undergoing highly impactful and externally-driven industrialization, various areas of the world are now facing a phase of economic transition involving the smart use of energy and economic models based on “innovation” and “sustainability” to manage urban and metropolitan areas. The smart approach has spread so widely throughout the globe due not only to its extreme transferability and adaptability, but also to its ability to develop seductive imaginaries associated with 3.0 cities: technologically advanced cities densely interconnected by telematic, ecological, resilient, multi-specialized and socially inclusive networks. In essence, the widespread use of new information and communication technologies is believed to improve quality of life and meet the needs of citizens, businesses and institutions. However, the smart city model has also come under scrutiny for its ambiguity (Hollands 2008; Nam and Pardo 2011) and the risk-laden political arrangements underlying its model of local governance. Its fiercest critics argue that these geometries of power foster exclusively market-oriented development, exacerbating class differences rather than reducing them (Hollands 2008, 2015).
This panel sets off from a series of fundamental questions. Is the smart city model nothing more than a new brand of neoliberal politics aimed at concentrating resources in the production of space that ensures the accumulation and reproducibility of capital? Is it actually encouraging political choices in the direction of more inclusive, progressive and environmentally sound values? Or does it act to depoliticize policy making processes by circulating prefabricated solutions in the seemingly neutral form of “good-practice pragmatism”? It could be argued that one the hallmarks of “roving” paradigms such as the smart city model is to elude forms of local resistance, developing ideas and rhetoric with the power to aggregate collectivities even without political consensus. If true, how does this dynamic manifest in areas plagued by issues that require concrete future alternatives in sectors such as energy, the environment, and urban sustainability, specifically in terms of safety and quality of life? In short, how does the smart agenda solve the problems mentioned above and how compatible is it with the needs of the weakest segments of the urban population?
Proposed papers should show how smart solutions and tools are incorporated into the urban contexts under investigation, the effects they produce in everyday life, in the sphere of emotions and social imaginaries, and the applied repercussions of the smart model in terms of social justice and sustainability.

Bibliographic references
Hollands Robert G., 2008, Will the real smart city please stand up?, in “City”, 12(3): 303-320.
Hollands Robert G., 2015, Critical interventions into the corporate smart city, in “Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society”, 8(1): 61–77.
Nam Taewoo, Theresa A. Pardo, 2011, Conceptualizing Smart City with Dimensions of Technology, People, and Institutions,
Williams Raymond, 1975, The country and the city, New York: Oxford University Press.

Paper proposals can be sent by mail to The proposal should include both an abstract (max 400 words) and a short bio (max 250 words). 

Deadline for submission on 23 July 2019.

We look forward to receive your panel ideas!

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search