Weekly Update – May 25th

Weekly Energy News Update

May 25th

I can’t help myself. This week’s update must begin with an article that to me just screams “USA Energy Culture”. What happens when a San Diego solar power retailer teams up with a marketing agency: Solar Cribs. This show is just oozing with West Coast upper class social capital. If that’s your thing, enjoy! ;-p
Youtube Channel Series “Solar Cribs” Launched by SunPower by Stellar Solar (EnergyTrend)
If you really want to watch episode 1, see if you can count the number of times these homeowners say the phrase “partner with nature”…


Emerging economies take lead on going green, but investment needed (Reuters)

China says will eventually allow private companies to invest in oil storage (Reuters)

Forecast for EU carbon prices in next decade put Paris target in doubt (Reuters)

Should OPEC worry about contango and backwardation? (Reuters)

I wanted to share this article to introduce this vocabulary of “contango” and “backwardation“. The latter was discussed very briefly in Arjun Appadurai’s most recent book Banking on Words: The Failure of Language in the Age of Derivative Finance




Kurdish independence in Iraq likely ‘not if but when’: U.S. general (Reuters)

Iowa senator slams energy chief for grid study undermining wind energy (Reuters)

Tunisia forces fire tear gas in showdown with protesters after energy sites shut (Reuters)

Swiss energy law aims to boost renewables, ban new nuclear plants (Reuters)

Brazil energy minister says he has no plan to resign amid crisis (Reuters)

Philippines, China play down Duterte’s talk of war in disputed sea (Reuters)
There were multiple corrections made after the release of this news, I assume at first no one really knew what to do after Duterte made his original statement.


It seems like the integration of blockchain technology into the energy market could be a very fruitful place for an anthropologist to study the future intersections of energy resources and economic exchange.

Enerchain: A Decentralized Market on the Blockchain for Energy Wholesalers (IEEE)

Qualcomm Demonstrates Dynamic Electric Vehicle Charging (EnergyTrend)




China coal imports from Russia, Australia rise in April after ban on N.Korea cargoes (Reuters)
This news comes despite various news reports that shipments from N. Korea are still entering Chinese ports. I have been wondering what quantity of the imports from North Korea were(are) anthracite that cannot be replaced (or at least not economically replaced).


Whitehall’s fracking science failure: shale gas really is worse for climate than coal (The Ecologist)




I wonder which conflict of interest, oh, I mean special consultant to the president, convinced him that this was a good idea.

Nigeria seen missing July target to buy cleaner fuel (Reuters)

Oil industry power is slithering away (Climate News Network)


Jordan’s Azraq becomes world first clean energy refugee camp (Reuters)
This is great, but I hope other needs within the camp are also being met.India to Overtake Japan as the World’s Third Largest Solar Market in 2017 (EnergyTrend)


Winds of change? Why offshore wind might be the next big thing (McKinsey)

Wind power has seen steady growth in India (IANS)

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

Why the World Needs Anthropologists: Powering the Planet – 28-29 October 2017. Durham, UK

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 www.applied-anthropology.com and follow updates also on Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/1292845360803687


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.


PAST EVENTS – Why the world needs anthropologists
TartuWhy the world needs anthropologists 2016: Humanise IT!
4-5 November, 2016, Tartu, Estonia
Keynote speakers: Sten Tamkivi (Teleport), Dimitris Dalakoglou (VU Amsterdam), Melissa Cefkin (Nissan), and Daniel Miller (UCL)


Why the world needs anthropologists III: Burning issues of our hot planet Why the world needs anthropologists 2015: Burning issues of our hot planet
27 November 2015, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Keynote speakers: Lučka Kajfež Bogataj (University of Ljubljana), Genevieve Bell (Intel), Thomas Hylland Eriksen (University of Oslo), Joana Breidenbach (Betterplace.org)a


WhyII Why the world needs anthropologists 2014: Coming out of the ivory tower
5 December 2014, Padua, Italy
Keynote speakers: Antonio Luigi Palmisano (University of Salento), Rikke Ulk (Antropologerne), Michele Visciòla (Experientia)


Why the world needs anthropologists IWhy the world needs anthropologists 2013: New fields for applied anthropology in Europe
29 November 2013, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Keynote speakers: Anna Kirah (Making Waves), Jitske Kramer (HumanDimensions), Simon Roberts (Stripe Partners)


More info : https://www.easaonline.org/networks/app_anth/events.shtml#


CFP: Les transitions dans l’histoire de l’énergie – état des lieux et nouvelles perspectives


29 novembre – 1 décembre (Milan, Italie)


La transition est aujourd’hui un paradigme dominant dans l’énoncé des politiques publiques et des stratégies privées liées à l’énergie. Acteurs publics, entreprises, associations, mais aussi chercheurs s’inscrivent chaque jour davantage dans l’horizon d’une transition énergétique à mener et à penser comme une transformation graduelle des moyens de production et des usages. Dans ce contexte, les historiens sont interpelés sur la question des transitions énergétiques passées : y a-t-il eu des transitions énergétiques dans le passé, et si oui que nous apprennent-elles qui pourrait être utile au présent ?


La transition est aujourd’hui un paradigme dominant dans l’énoncé des politiques publiques et des stratégies privées liées à l’énergie. Acteurs publics, entreprises, associations, mais aussi chercheurs s’inscrivent chaque jour davantage dans l’horizon d’une transition énergétique à mener et à penser comme une transformation graduelle des moyens de production et des usages. Dans ce contexte, les historiens sont interpelés sur la question des transitions énergétiques passées : y a-t-il eu des transitions énergétiques dans le passé, et si oui que nous apprennent-elles qui pourrait être utile au présent ? Face à cette question et aux premières réponses apportées, s’en pose immédiatement une autre : les historiens ne sont-ils pas, comme l’ensemble des acteurs, victimes de la plasticité de cette notion, parlant tous de transition sans y mettre le même contenu ? Cet objet a-t-il seulement un sens du point de vue de l’histoire ?

Le colloque « Les transitions dans l’histoire de l’énergie » entend dresser un état des lieux et interroger les perspectives sur la recherche historique en matière de transition énergétique. Dans quelles directions sont allées les recherches sur la ou les transitions énergétiques, depuis l’ouvrage magistral Technique et civilisation (1934; 1950 pour la traduction française) de Lewis Mumford, qui assignait déjà un rôle majeur à la production et à l’utilisation de l’énergie pour définir trois phases de rapport de l’homme à la machine ? Que reste-t-il à connaître du passé des transitions énergétiques ? Peut-on se contenter de ce paradigme ou convient-il de le dépasser ?

Le colloque portera une attention particulière à la question des archives, matière première des historiens. Dans quelle mesure et de quelle manière la perspective actuelle de la transition rejailli-t-elle sur les archives et la politique d’archivage des entreprises du secteur énergétique notamment ? Les professionnels concernés sont encouragés à participer à cette réflexion fondamentale pour l’avenir de l’histoire des transitions énergétiques.

Le colloque permettra de préparer un numéro spécial de la Revue d’histoire de l’énergie.

Modalités de candidature

Les candidats devront envoyer un titre, un résumé de leur présentation accompagné d’un cv d’une page maximum aux deux adresses suivantes : giovanni.paoloni@uniroma1.it et comite.histoire.electricite@gmail.com

Langues acceptées : italien, français, anglais.

Les candidatures pourront être envoyées jusqu’au 25 juin 2017.


Elles seront soumises aux membres du comité scientifique :

  • Alain Beltran, CNRS Sirice ;
  • Christophe Bouneau, Université Bordeaux Montaigne ;
  • Yves Bouvier, Université Paris Sorbonne ;
  • Paolo Brenni, CNR ; Anna Guagnini, Università di Bologna ;
  • Sandra Holgado, EDF Archives ;
  • Giovanni Paoloni, Università La Sapienza ;
  • Laura Ronzon, Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia « Leonardo da Vinci » ;
  • Luciana Tasselli, Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia « Leonardo da Vinci » ;
  • Jean-Pierre Williot, Université de Tours ;
  • Sergio Zannella, Edison.

Les candidats seront informés du résultat au plus tard le 1er juillet 2017.

Prise en charge

Les frais de transport sont à la charge des participants. Les frais de séjour sont couverts par les organisateurs.

Contacts : giovanni.paoloni@uniroma1.it et comite.histoire.electricite@gmail.com


Comité d’Histoire de l’Électricité et de l’Énergie de la Fondation Groupe EDF, avec la collaboration du Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia « Leonardo da Vinci », et l’Università La Sapienza.


  • Edison, Sala azionisti – Foro Buonaparte 31
    Milan, Italie (20121)


  • énergie, historiographie, transition, électricité, pétrole, gaz, charbon, renouvelable


  • Giovanni Paoloni
    courriel : giovanni [dot] paoloni [at] uniroma1 [dot] it
  • Léonard Laborie
    courriel : comite [dot] histoire [dot] electricite [at] gmail [dot] com



« Les transitions dans l’histoire de l’énergie : état des lieux et nouvelles perspectives », Appel à contribution,  Calenda, Publié le mardi 09 mai 2017, http://calenda.org/404295

New book : Fueling Culture – 101 Words for Energy and Environment

Keywords to understand the impact of fossil fuels on contemporary culture and politics


Fueling Culture

101 Words for Energy and Environment

Edited by Imre Szeman, Jennifer Wenzel, and Patricia Yaeger (2017)

A Fordham University Press Publication


How has our relation to energy changed over time? What differences do particular energy sources make to human values, politics, and imagination? How have transitions from one energy source to another–from wood to coal, or from oil to solar to whatever comes next–transformed culture and society? What are the implications of uneven access to energy in the past, present, and future? Which concepts and theories clarify our relation to energy, and which just get in the way? Fueling Culture offers a compendium of keywords written by scholars and practitioners from around the world and across the humanities and social sciences. These keywords offer new ways of thinking about energy as both the source and the limit of how we inhabit culture, with the aim of opening up new ways of understanding the seemingly irresolvable contradictions of dependence upon unsustainable energy forms.
Fueling Culture brings together writing that is risk-taking and interdisciplinary, drawing on insights from literary and cultural studies, environmental history and ecocriticism, political economy and political ecology, postcolonial and globalization studies, and materialisms old and new

Keywords in this volume include: Aboriginal, Accumulation, Addiction, Affect, America, Animal, Anthropocene, Architecture, Arctic, Automobile, Boom, Canada, Catastrophe, Change, Charcoal, China, Coal, Community, Corporation, Crisis, Dams, Demand, Detritus, Disaster, Ecology, Electricity, Embodiment, Ethics, Evolution, Exhaust, Fallout, Fiction, Fracking, Future, Gender, Green, Grids, Guilt, Identity, Image, Infrastructure, Innervation, Kerosene, Lebenskraft, Limits, Media, Metabolism, Middle East, Nature, Necessity, Networks, Nigeria, Nuclear, Petroviolence, Photography, Pipelines, Plastics, Renewable, Resilience, Risk, Roads, Rubber, Rural, Russia, Servers, Shame, Solar, Spill, Spiritual, Statistics, Surveillance, Sustainability, Tallow, Texas, Textiles, Utopia, Venezuela, Whaling, Wood, Work


Author Information

Imre Szeman is Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies and Professor of English, Film Studies and Sociology at the University of Alberta.

Jennifer Wenzel is Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature and the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University.

Patricia Yaeger was Henry Simmons Frieze Collegiate Professor of English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.



Alan Ackerman, Philip Aghoghovwia, Daniel Anderson, Claudia Aradau, Chris Arsenault, Lynn Badia, Joaquin Bandera, Georgiana Banita, Daniel Barber, Darin Barney, Crystal Bartolovich, Bart Beaty, Brent Bellamy, Franco Berardi, Amanda Boetzkes, Dominic Boyer, Ian Buchanan, Frederick Buell, Graham Burnett, Gerry Canavan, Warren Cariou, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Sharad Chari, Juan Cole, Claire Mary Colebrook, Patricia Corcoran, Ashley Dawson, Jeff Diamanti, Adam Dickinson, Arif Dirlik, Kit Dobson, Sara Dorow, Abbey Dubin, Todd Dufresne, Danine Farquharson, Matthew Flisfeder, Anna Galkina, Louise Green, Lindsey Green-Simms, Susie Hatmaker, Gay Hawkins, Lisa Haynes, Gabrielle Hecht, Peter Hitchcock, Werner Hofer, Mél Hogan, Cymene Howe, Carren Irr, Kelly Jazvac, Bob Johnson, Antonia Juhasz, Tim Kaposy, Ed Kashi, Donald Kingsbury, Alice Kuzniar, Philipp Lehmann, Stephanie LeMenager, Ernst Logar, Andrew Loman, Graeme MacDonald, Joseph Masco, Lee Medovoi, Toby Miller, Mika Minio-Paluello, Jason Moore, Spencer Morrison, Timothy Morton, Erin Morton, Vin Nardizzi, Michael Niblett, Rob Nixon, Susie O’Brien, Lisa Parks, Donald E. Pease, Andrew Pendakis, Alexei Penzin, Karen Pinkus, Fiona Polack, Pedro Reyes, Kirsty Robertson, Rafico Ruiz, Robert Ryder, Deena Rymhs, Anna Sajecki, Gordon Sayre, Matthew Schneider-Mayerson, Laurie Shannon, Elizabeth Shove, Stevphen Shukaitis, Lisa Sideris, Mark Simpson, John Soluri, Vivasvan Soni, Janet Stewart, Allan Stoekl, Imre Szeman, Geo Takach, Noah Toly, Susan Turcot, Priscilla Wald, Gordon Walker, Michael Watts, Viviane Weitzner, Jennifer Wenzel, Sheena Wilson, Daniel Worden, Amy Zhang, Joanna Zylinska

Durham Energy Seminar: Energy and Homes (Dr Roxana Morosanu)

Energy, Science & Society


DEI Seminar Series


// Energy and Homes: Conflicts, Contradictions and Collaborations


Dr Roxana Morosanu, Research Associate, University of Cambridge

13.00-14.00, Wednesday 24 May 2017

Room D210, Dawson Building, Durham University


Intersections between domesticity and energy infrastructures are at once evident and confusing.  They are evident because the vast majority of domestic buildings are visibly connected to the national energy grid. They are mysterious because how and why people use energy in their homes is, in many ways, an incommensurable question.


This paper discusses findings from, and reflects upon practices of interdisciplinary collaboration within a wider research project that looked at domestic energy demand of UK households.  It focuses, specifically, on the role of contradictions as entry points, both ethnographically and in advancing cross-disciplinary communication.


Dr Roxana Morosanu is a Research Associate at the University of Cambridge.  As part of the IdEAS project, her work involves using ethnographic, arts-based, and participant-led methods to look at creativity and fixation in design from a social anthropological perspective.  Her PhD research was part of a wider interdisciplinary project looking at domestic energy demand of UK families, and that brought together researchers from building engineering, design and social sciences.  Her most recent publications include An Ethnography of Household Energy Demand in the UK (Palgrave Macmillan 2016).

New book: Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi

A Moral Technology

Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi

by Leo Coleman
Cornell University Press


In India over the past century, electrification has meant many things: it has been a colonial gift of modern technology, a tool of national integration and political communication, and a means of gauging the country’s participation in globalization. Electric lights have marked out places of power, and massive infrastructures have been installed in hopes of realizing political promises. In A Moral Technology, the grids and wires of an urban public utility are revealed to be not only material goods but also objects of intense moral concern. Leo Coleman offers a distinctive anthropological approach to electrification in New Delhi as more than just an economic or industrial process, or a “gridding” of social and political relations. It may be understood instead as a ritual action that has formed modern urban communities and people’s sense of citizenship, and structured debates over state power and political legitimacy.

Coleman explores three historical and ethnographic case studies from the founding of New Delhi as an imperial capital city, to its reshaping as a national capital for post-independence India, up to its recent emergence as a contemporary global city. These case studies closely describe technological politics, rituals, and legal reforms at key moments of political change in India, and together they support Coleman’s argument that ritual performances, moral judgments, and technological installations combine to shape modern state power, civic life, and political community.

Introduction: Electricity Acts

Part I. Imperial Installations

1. The Machinery of Government

2. Ritual Center and Divided City

Part II. National Grids

3. The Lifeblood of the Nation

4. Broadcast Mantras

Part III. Urban Transformations

5. The Life of Property

6. A Model Colony Conclusion: The Art of a Free Society



Call for evidence – Help shaping European energy policy

SHAPE ENERGY Call for Evidence

SHAPE ENERGY – Social sciences and Humanities for Advancing Policy in European Energy – represents a new €2m European platform for energy-related social sciences and humanities (energy-SSH) research. Energy-SSH has played less of a role to date in shaping European energy policy than Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and, as such, the SHAPE ENERGY platform aims to develop Europe’s expertise in using and applying energy-SSH. SHAPE ENERGY directly feeds into the work of the European Commission’s strategy unit with responsibility for energy research and innovation.


The two-year SHAPE ENERGY project began in February 2017 and is coordinated by Anglia Ruskin University (UK). As part of its initial scoping work, it has just launched a Call for Evidence aiming to identify current understandings and future priorities for energy research from a wide range of research, policy and practitioner communities across Europe. As such, this call is not solely intended for energy-SSH researchers; we are keen to engage with energy-STEM and non-energy-SSH researchers – as well as those from policy, industry, NGOs and beyond – who may want to utilise energy-SSH research in the future.


This call is intentionally designed to be easy to do (only four core questions, 5-10mins). Responses will be anonymised and made publicly available free-of-charge in summer 2017 (via www.shapeenergy.eu – not yet launched). There will also be an accompanying SHAPE ENERGY reflective summary, on the basis of those responses.


Please respond here: https://goo.gl/forms/AL0Zsmsc4fvhVlzg2

CFP: The Material Realities of Energy Histories – Canadian Journal of History

The Material Realities of Energy Histories
A Call for Proposals for a Special Issue of the Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire (CJH/ACH)

The appropriation and control of the flow of energy from the sun and stocks of energy stored beneath the surface of the Earth influenced changes to human societies in the past. Ideology, cultural norms, scientific knowledge, and technology informed how people used energy, and the use of energy transformed relationships between people, and between humans and the natural world. Over time, people devised more efficient ways of harnessing and directing energy, while at the same time breaking the constraints of older patterns of use by adopting new energy sources and fuels. And despite moments of scarcity or crisis, the scale of energy used by humans has always tended toward ever-greater amounts.

Energy history has grown considerably from a largely overlooked sub-field to an important and relevant line
of historical enquiry. Responding to the realization that human energy use has been directly responsible
for monumental social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental changes, such as industrialization, urbanization, global warming, and the onset of the Anthropocene, historians have begun to embrace the need to understand better how energy structured human societies.

The Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’histoire is pleased to welcome abstracts of articles for a special issue on energy history. The proposed essays should explore topics that address the transnational dimensions and multiple scales of the material realities and environmental consequences of energy production, distribution, and consumption in any time period. Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to submit full article manuscripts for double-blind peer review.

Possible themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • energy sources/fuels/commodities
  • energy networks/infrastructure
  • efforts to connect sites of energy production and consumption
  • industrialization, urbanization, transportation, resource development, agriculture
  • energy abundance/scarcity
  • energy justice/inequality
  • energy regimes/transitions
  • households/consumer culture
  • transformations of environment/landscape

Those interested should send a 250-300 word abstract by 2 June 2017 to the attention of guest editor Andrew Watson (cjh@usask.ca). Invited authors will be asked to submit a full article manuscript for peer review by 15 September 2017.

New book : Energy Humanities

Energy Humanities – An Anthology




Energy humanities is a field of scholarship that, like medical and digital humanities before it, aims to overcome traditional boundaries between the disciplines and between academic and applied research. Responding to growing public concern about anthropogenic climate change and the unsustainability of the fuels we use to power our modern society, energy humanists highlight the essential contribution that humanistic insights and methods can make to areas of analysis once thought best left to the natural sciences.

In this groundbreaking anthology, Imre Szeman and Dominic Boyer have brought together a carefully curated selection of the best and most influential work in energy humanities. Arguing that today’s energy and environmental dilemmas are fundamentally problems of ethics, habits, imagination, values, institutions, belief, and power—all traditional areas of expertise of the humanities and humanistic social sciences—the essays and other pieces featured here demonstrate the scale and complexity of the issues the world faces. Their authors offer compelling possibilities for finding our way beyond our current energy dependencies toward a sustainable future.

Contributors include: Margaret Atwood, Paolo Bacigalupi, Lesley Battler, Ursula Biemann, Dominic Boyer, Italo Calvino, Warren Cariou, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Una Chaudhuri, Claire Colebrook, Stephen Collis, Erik M. Conway, Amy De’Ath, Adam Dickinson, Fritz Ertl, Pope Francis, Amitav Ghosh, Gökçe Günel, Gabrielle Hecht, Cymene Howe, Dale Jamieson, Julia Kasdorf, Oliver Kellhammer, Stephanie LeMenager, Barry Lord, Graeme Macdonald, Joseph Masco, John McGrath, Martin McQuillan, Timothy Mitchell, Timothy Morton, Jean-François Mouhot, Abdul Rahman Munif, Judy Natal, Reza Negarestani, Pablo Neruda, David Nye, Naomi Oreskes, Andrew Pendakis, Karen Pinkus, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Hermann Scheer, Roy Scranton, Allan Stoekl, Imre Szeman, Laura Watts, Michael Watts, Jennifer Wenzel, Sheena Wilson, Patricia Yaeger, and Marina Zurkow


Link to Table of Contents (pdf)

New book: Fear and Fortune

Fear and Fortune — Spirit Worlds and Emerging Economies in the Mongolian Gold Rush

By Mette M. High
Cornell University Press, 09 May 2017, Ithaca, NY, United States

Mongolia over the last decade has seen a substantial and ongoing gold rush. The widespread mining of gold looks at first glance to be a blessing for a desperately poor and largely pastoralist country where people’s lives were disrupted by the end of the USSR and tens of millions of livestock were killed in devastating droughts in the early 2000s. Volatility and uncertainty as well as political and economic turmoil led many people to join the hopeful search for gold. This activity, born out of uncertain times, poses an intense moral problem; in the “land of dust,” disturbing the ground and extracting the precious metal is widely believed to have calamitous consequences. With gold retaining strong ties to the landscape and its many spirit beings, the fortune of the precious metal is inseparable from the fears that surround mining. Tracing the continuities and discontinuities between human and nonhuman worlds, Mette M. High follows the paths of gold as it is excavated and converted into “polluted money,” entering local shops and Buddhist monasteries, joining the illegal gold trade, and returning as “renewed” money for the “big bosses” of the gold mines.

High has done several years of fieldwork in Mongolia, spending time with the “ninjas,” as the miners are known locally, as well as the people who disapprove of their illegal activities and warn of the retribution that the land and its inhabitants may suffer as a result. This book is about radical change, or as many Mongolians put it, when life becomes “strange” and “chaotic.” High has gained a deep understanding of the processes by which Mongolians square a morally questionable activity with the lure of profit. How do they involve themselves with tainted sources of money, and can it ever be cleansed and made usable? Addressing how our lives and those of others are intimately intertwined, Fear and Fortune offers an expansive and capacious approach to understanding the high stakes involved in human economic life.

Introduction: Land of Fortune

1. The Burden of Patriarchy

2. The Power of Gold

3. Angered Spirits

4. Polluted Money

5. Wealth and Devotion

6. Trading Gold

“Energy without Conscience” : free course book (open access)

Energy without Conscience is now effectively a free course book.

Duke U Press has made a special deal to provide this book and a few others as open access.  In the spirit of Copy Left and Creative Commons, you may download and share the PDF from this link:



Author(s) Hughes, David McDermott
Publisher Duke University Press, Durham NC
Published 20170301
Subjects HumanitiesHistoryRegional and national history__History of the Americas
‘In Energy without Conscience’ David McDermott Hughes investigates why climate change has yet to be seen as a moral issue. He examines the forces that render the use of fossil fuels ordinary and therefore exempt from ethical evaluation. Hughes centers his analysis on Trinidad and Tobago, which is the world’s oldest petro-state, having drilled the first continuously producing oil well in 1866. Marrying historical research with interviews with Trinidadian petroleum scientists, policymakers, technicians, and managers, he draws parallels between Trinidad’s eighteenth- and nineteenth-century slave labor energy economy and its contemporary oil industry. Hughes shows how both forms of energy rely upon a complicity that absolves producers and consumers from acknowledging the immoral nature of each. He passionately argues that like slavery, producing oil is a moral choice and that oil is at its most dangerous when it is accepted as an ordinary part of everyday life.


Keywords History
Language English
ISBN 9780822363064

Nuclear Accident Compensation Schemes. Have we calculated the true costs of nuclear energy?

Cornell University’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and Meridian 180 are pleased to invite you to an expert briefing on nuclear accident compensation schemes, taking place on Friday 19 May 2017; 02:00 – 03:30PM in Brussels’ Steigenberger Hotel.

As the EU works towards a more sustainable energy landscape in the face of climate change, the role of nuclear energy is again the subject of debate – from discussions about France’s heavy dependence on nuclear energy production to Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Countries around the world are looking to nuclear as part of their plan to reduce carbon emissions. But nuclear power carries very high risks, as catastrophic accidents have already demonstrated.

Six years after the meltdown at Fukushima, Cornell University’s Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies and Meridian 180 bring top experts from the U.S. and Japan to Brussels to discuss current practices and necessary reforms in the fields of nuclear safety and risk preparedness.

The event will launch the Einaudi Center’s comparative study of U.S., Soviet/post-Soviet, and Japanese nuclear accident compensation schemes, which assesses the previously hidden costs of nuclear energy that have been exposed by the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.

· Speakers ·

  • Annelise Riles, Jack G. Clarke Professor of Far East Legal Studies & Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, US
  • Takao Suami, Professor of Law, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan
  • Rebecca Slayton, Assistant Professor, Science & Technology Studies & Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies, Cornell University
  • Sonja Schmid, Associate Professor, Science and Technology Studies, Virginia Tech, Falls Church, Virginia, United States
  • Mary X. Mitchell, Postdoctoral Fellow, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University

· Briefing Synopsis ·

The event will offer policy-makers, NGOs, scholars, scientists, and interested members of the general public an international and comparative assessment of liability and public compensation schemes in the nuclear field. It presents the work of a global working group of experts convened by Meridian 180, a multilingual platform for policy solutions, and the Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies at Cornell University. Covering experiences with diverse technologies, governance strategies, and accident scenarios in the United States, the USSR/post-USSR, Europe, and Japan, the expert participants will outline the challenges that nuclear accidents have posed for affected people and communities as well as for the financing of the nuclear industry worldwide. 

Questions? Contact chm72@cornell.edu I +1-917-763-6499

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