EAN network meeting July 27

In less than a week we will be meeting with network members at the EASA conference in Belfast. Please join us 27 July 17:00-18:45pm to discuss:

  • our workshop for 2023 (we always organize a mini network gathering/conference in between the biannual meetings)
  • collaborations or projects members are interested in
  • open positions — are you interested in becoming more active in the network? We have at least two positions that are officially at the end of their term: secretary and convenor

Registered and unregistered participants can join.

Please reach out to us if you have any questions at katja.mueller@zirs.uni-halle.de and/or emoolenaar@regis.edu.

EASA 2022 in Belfast

EASA 2022 is coming up soon! It will be a hybrid conference hosted by the Queen’s University Belfast and is particularly focused on the connections between hope and political projects of (un)commoning. This gives us a way of thinking about political, social, economic, environmental and cultural transformations in the context of the pandemic and beyond. Are there transformations for which we can hope? If so, how can we hope for such transformations? What kinds of transformations should be in-common or what kinds of transformations are best left as uncommon?

The Energy Anthropology Network will convene at EASA2022 and for the first time officially sponsor two (!) panels, namely P043 Commoning-decommoning dynamics in climate and energy politics and
P091 Energy transition(s): The promises of renewables and future of the commons.

And besides contemporary politics, here’s another indication that energy anthropology is gaining traction: P022 Uncommon exporations between green technologies, climate hopes and the anthropological imagination and P128 The European energy sector in transformation have a strong energy focus, and P146 Experimental transformations – Living labs as hopeful commons and P008 Infrastructural makeshifts: the temporality and materiality of hope in times of urban transformations also explicitly invited contributions from energy research.

The network meeting will be held on Wednesday afternoon (17:00-18:45 Belfast time). Attendance is possible for those registered as well as unregistered.

We are looking forward to an engaging conference for and beyond energy anthropology!

Ukraine: Energy in the Spotlight seminar series

Presented in conjunction with CRSCEES, the Centre for Energy Ethics invites you to join them for a “Ukraine: Energy in the Spotlight” 5-part seminar series that will run virtually every Thursday at 2pm BST, starting on 7 April. Joined by Ukrainian experts and special guests from and beyond the region, the seminar series will delve into the everyday energy realities faced by Ukrainians, the new ethical dimensions of energy that have emerged from the war, and the transregional implications for energy futures in Ukraine and worldwide. 

Part 1: Nuclear Worlds, Thursday 7 AprilPart 2: Natural Gas & Pipeline Geopolitics, Thursday 14 AprilPart 3: Electricity Networks – Connecting Worlds by Wires, Thursday 21 AprilPart 4: Oil Markets and Crude Politics, Thursday 28 AprilPart 5: Coal, Old and New, Thursday 5 May Register and find out more information here. 

Crucially, the Centre for Energy Ethics invites donations to the University’s Hardship Appeal for St Andrews students and staff affected by the war in Ukraine. Assisting with accommodation, living expenses and other incidentals faced in the months ahead, the Fund aims to provide peace of mind that St Andrews will remain a safe and supportive haven for anyone directly affected by the war. Donate here.

ETROD session on deep time reckoning, February 24th, 16-17:45 CE(S)T

ETROD welcomes Vincent Ialenti to discuss the introduction to his book “Deep time reckoning: How Future Thinking Can Help Earth Now“ (2020, MIT Press) in which he argues that we need to become “more skilled deep time reckoners” and to learn to inhabit a longer now. 

Topic: ETROD – Extractivism and Transition Research Online Dialogues

Time: Feb 24, 2022 04:00 PM Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Stockholm, Vienna

 ETROD occurs every month on the Fourth Thursday. Three upcoming dates: Feb 24, March 24, April 28 all at 4pm CEST.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 648 9546 8707

Password: 407026

Reminder deadline CFP EASA meeting, January 13th!

This Thursday is the deadline for panel proposals for the EASA biennial meeting this summer. EAN is guaranteed one accepted panel, so please indicate in your proposal that you would like it to be considered for the Energy Anthro Network by writing [Energy Anthro Network] after your proposal title (when submitting or afterwards by editing it through Cocoa). Please let the network convenors know if you want your panel to be sponsored by emailing Katja, Siddharth or Elisabeth (katja.mueller@zirs.uni-halle.de, siddharth.sareen@uis.no, emoolenaar@regis.edu)).

The rules for panel submission have become a bit more extensive: among other things you must make sure that there are at least two people from different institutions (ideally: countries) convening, with at least one having a PhD and at least one being present in Belfast during the fully hybrid conference.
Please feel free to use the EAN list if you are looking for someone to partner up with, e.g. through stating the proposed panel title, your institution and whether you’d like to attend in person – people interested might then use the chance to reply to you directly.

Fall 2021 AAG Energy and Environment Specialty Group Lecture Series

First session: “The European Geographies of Energy Transition: Policies and Complexities” , Friday, October 8th at 2PM ET

Register at: https://go.unc.edu/EESGGrandi

Silvia Grandi is the inaugural AAG Energy and Environment Specialty Group Invited Lecture. Professor Grandi is a permanent director at the Italian Ministry of Economic Development since 2010 and works on a variety of national and European energy and environment committees. Her research focuses on sustainable development, circular economies, natural resources, and European environmental policies. For more information about Professor Grandi, you can visit her website at: https://www.unibo.it/sitoweb/s.grandi

Details about the second Fall 2021 invited lecturer will be published in the coming weeks. To stay up to date on all things EESG, visit the website or follow us on Twitter.

Questions? Email Trey Murphy at mur…@unc.edu 

New ETROD & City Industries, Aug. 19

The next ETROD & CityIndustries session is scheduled for Thursday, August 19th, 4pm CEST. We’ll discuss with Gargi Bhattacharyya the fourth chapter of her book “Racial Capitalism“. If you feel like joining this online dialogue and haven’t already signed up and received the chapter, please email Katja Müller katja.mueller@zirs.uni-halle.de

Extractivism and Transition Research Online Dialogue, July 15

Discuss the article Populism, Instability, and Rupture in Sustainability Transformations with us and its author. Access to article: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/24694452.2020.1866486

If you feel like joining the discussion next Thursday, July 15th at 4pm CEST, please read Havard’s text and email katja.mueller@zirs.uni-halle.de for the Zoom link.

Call for abstracts North American Wind Energy Academy 2021. Deadline April 16, 2021

North American Wind Energy Academy is accepting abstracts: NAWEA/WindTech 2021

The NAWEA/WindTech 2021 conference will take place in-person at the University of Delaware, USA, on September 22-24, 2021

Social/environmental Track Call for Abstracts
We start from the premise that deployment of wind turbines and related grid infrastructure on a scale to transform the energy economy is a public policy issue. Without a comprehensive appreciation of the realities of the larger human and environmental context, society may fall well short of realizing the full potential of wind energy. We thus seek cross-sectional analyses and case studies, quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method approaches from not only the United States and Canada, but also from beyond our borders, on-land and offshore. 

Submit an abstract: https://www.naweawindtech2021.org/abstract-submission/

CFP Taking Care of Energy Infrastructures (STS Conference, Graz, 4-6 May)

For those who “care” for energy infrastructures (or work with people who do), please consider sharing or contributing to this session at the STS Conference in Graz (Austria), 4-6 May. Description below.

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.

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.

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

Deadline approaching CFP EASA 2020 (Lisbon July 21-24)!

January 20th is the deadline for paper proposals for EASA 2020 (to be held in Lisbon July 21-24). There are several panels dealing with energy that EAN encourages you to submit to (or share with interested friends) before the deadline.

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


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


    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


    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


    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.

On proposing a paper: https://easaonline.org/conferences/easa2020/cfp

More about the Lisbon EASA conference here

Anthropology and Environment Society Junior Scholar Award

The Anthropology and Environment Society (AES) of the American Anthropological Association is pleased to announce the 2019 Junior Scholar Award competition. This award is made each year at the American Anthropology Association’s annual meeting.

The award is for early-career scholars who are untenured and/or within five years of having obtained a Ph.D. The purpose of this $250 award is to encourage talented junior scholars to continue working in the domain of anthropology and environment by recognizing their exemplary scholarship. Judging will be based on a refereed journal article published in the last two calendar years (2018-2019), which must be at least in galley or page-proof stage of publication. Co-authored papers are acceptable, but the nominee must be the lead author.

We invite anthropologists and colleagues in other disciplines to nominate candidates for the award based on their knowledge of the field and the work of junior scholars. Authors are also invited to nominate one of their own articles.

Nominated articles should be sent to Dana E. Powell (powellde@appstate.edu)
together with brief memos that nominate the author(s) and identify the key contributions and qualities of the nominated work.  The deadline is October 13, 2019 and the award will be announced at the AAA Annual Meeting.

Coping Strategies. Questions regarding Resettlement, Participation, and Energy Self-sufficiency

author: Valeska Flor


“Nothing was normal anymore in this village that was disbanding bit by bit; bombarded by noise during the day, but desolately quiet at night. Not only the buildings were missing, the people that had given life and breath to them were missing as well” (Bachér 2011, 37). With these words the author Ingrid Bachér describes the resettlement of the town Garzweiler, Germany, during the 1980s. In her novel Bachér reports about the daily life of the fictional Aschoff family and how lignite mining causes rifts in the landscape and in the lives of the people living there. The German energy requirement is covered by a mix of fossil fuels, nuclear power and renewable energy. Although renewable energies are to be supported during the course of the German energy transition, lignite is still presented as an important partner and transitory technology in this mix. Therefore, the contribution of coal/lignite in this mix has decreased considerably but still has its use. However, the consequences of a constant energy supply for thousands of people in lignite areas, in particular resettlement, are often disregarded. The ethnography of the Rhenish lignite area presented in this paper has allowed to show the ambivalence of energy production, consumption as well as coping strategies of resettlers.

Energy Issues and the Electrification of Society

“Energy” is omnipresent and determines our everyday life. But what does “energy” actually mean? In physics, energy is defined by the ability of a substance, body or system to do work, and this also applies to humans. As long as we live, we convert energy: while breathing, eating, moving, sleeping and thinking. Nature also supplies an infinite amount of energy: sunlight, wind movement, water power, geothermal energy, or renewable biomass can be used for energy and supply us with electricity. Energy is therefore not only a purely physical quantity; it is a metaphor for individual prosperity and the prosperity of a country and its society. The electrification of society as a whole began with the introduction of electric illumination, initially around the turn of the century in public spaces and later—around the 1920s—in private spaces. During this period, the extraction of energy resources and the production of electricity were increasingly integrated into the economic, political and socio-cultural argumentation patterns (which today are also referred to in connection with lignite mining). The basis for the idea that energy is the fundamental driving force of the economy and society was formed precisely in this context. Energy was no longer just an “energetic view of the world” but a “general cultural principle” (Binder 1999, 241). Nowadays, our understanding of energy is rather everyday and universal, but also diffuse: “hardly imaginable is a life without the many electrical aids, and at the same time it is a secret, the path of electricity in our everyday life lies in the dark” (Ibid., 9). Electricity is simply there, but during crises—like resettlement—, more thought is given to electricity and energy consumption.

Reasons for Lignite Mining and Resettlement in Germany

The resettlements procedures currently taking place in Germany are drastically changing the lives of their residents. In this context it is to say that most of the villagers do not leave voluntarily. They have to leave because of the Section 79, subsection 1, of the federal mining law which says that: “The assignment of property is permitted in individual cases if it serves the public good [. . .], and if due to the site dependency of the mining operation the enterprise cannot be carried out by any other reasonable means.” (BbergG § 79, 1). To put it bluntly: the law puts the good of the many before the good of the few. The resettlers do not have the option to stay. They have to move and (re) settle somewhere else and find a way to cope with these experiences.

Coping Strategies: Participation and Energy Self-Sufficiency

Coping and adjustment are important aspects of the Rhenish lignite mining area, e.g. during the planned citizen participation process where the resettlers gain agency through civic engagement. This is done through a participation procedure in the resettlement process. Keywords such as democratic legitimacy, social compatibility, planning and competence acquisition, self-determination and participation, as well as compensation for material and immaterial losses of resettlers were mentioned, explained, and criticized by my interview partners. In addition, numerous practices could be observed. These participatory practices can be understood as the “skillful performances of competent bodies” (Reckwitz 2003, 290), where the habitus and the social, cultural and symbolic capital of the resettlers are merging with the embodiment of knowledge (Bourdieu 1977). They are knowledge-based activities and practical abilities guided by the acquisition of skills, i.e. activities in which practical knowledge and understanding are central (Reckwitz 2003, 292).

During the resettlement process, behavioral routines are developed, which enable the resettlers to act as experts in their environment. The behavioral routine “energy expert” is one of the most important roles in the process. As the villages resettle due to society’s need for energy, there is a special motivation for discussing holistic energy concepts and reducing dependence on fossil energies in the future. For this reason, the resettlers acquire knowledge in connection with a wide variety of energy issues: they learn about innovative energy concepts, such as climate protection settlements, current energy-saving regulations, passive houses, and centralized and decentralized energy supply. Being an energy expert means being independent of the energy companies in the future. To be independent from a company that is responsible for the demolishing of their own Heimat—an image that is prominent in most of the interviews. But learning is not enough, being active—in the planning process and in (political) activism—is presented as a way to gain agency. Agency in a normative political process which reduces resettlers—at least in the beginning—to a passive role, i.e. they do not move on their own free will, is the basis for coping and adjustment. In this context agency encourages the resettlers to think about their own energy requirements consumption and enables them to plan their future accordingly.


Bachér Ingrid (2011): Die Grube. Berlin: Dittrich Verlag.

Binder Beate (1999): Elektrifizierung als Vision. Zur Symbolgeschichte einer Technik im Alltag. Tübingen: TVV.

Bourdieu Pierre (1977): Outline of a Theory of Practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Reckwitz Andreas (2003): Grundelemente einer Theorie sozialer Praktiken. Eine sozialtheoretische Perspektive. Zeitschrift für Soziologie 32/4, 282-201.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search