CFP Petrocultures 2020:transformations

26-29 August, Stavanger Norway

We live in turbulent times, and the role of petroleum is at the heart of global and local political debate. Indeed, a transition to a world without oil as its primary source of fuel and energy is needed if we want to reach the international climate targets, but the feasibility, realism and not least timing is strongly debated. Oil will indeed come to an end, but whether the closing date is set by emptied reservoirs, greener alternatives, or political decisions, is still to be determined. Recognizing that the “age of oil” is being challenged, petrocultures2020 invites scholars and artists, journalists and activists, politicians and business actors to critically engage in the debate and the alternatives. The conference will be held at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and a nearby conference venue in Stavanger, the energy capital of Norway.

For more information and to submit:

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

MSc Energy and Society now recruiting

Climate change and sustainable development targets mean we must change our global energy systems and our relationship to energy. Durham University’s MSc in Energy and Society addresses the complex challenges of changing global and local energy systems through a ‘socio-technical’ approach to understanding energy. It introduces diverse technological approaches, and brings you the knowledge and intellectual tools you need to analyse the role of energy in the world, the politics of energy change and the consequences of changing approaches.

The MSc in Energy and Society prepares you for a career in decarbonising energy systems. Whether that is by working with industry to redesign energy services, helping consumers rethink their energy practices, or developing climate-appropriate policies, the MSc gives you the grounding you need to make a difference.

Apply now via:

and find more informal information on the course blog:

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.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search