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

Dear Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

Looking forward for your valuable contribution.

 Kind regards,

Simone Abram, Nathalie Ortar, Tristan Loloum


ENERGOPOLITICS 

CITIZENSHIP, GOVERNMENTALITY AND VIOLENCE ALONG THE GRID 

Editors: Simone ABRAM, Tristan LOLOUM, Nathalie ORTAR

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

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

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

 

Contributors:

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

CFP: Eco-Frictions: Heritagization, Energopolitics and Fantasies of Environmental Sustainability

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting 2017

Washington D.C., November 29-December 3

Organizers: Mara Benadusi (University of Catania) and Filippo Zerilli (University of Cagliari)

Environmental crises and related concerns have increased enormously over the past few decades, creating disturbances for human and non-human life on a planetary scale. And yet, simultaneously, this trend is matched by an explosion of attempts to transform exploited sites into zones recovering from ecological disaster by any means necessary. Characterized by multiples and often conflicting moral regimes and economic systems, these ‘friction zones’ are progressively changing under the pressure of two main phenomena: one that entails a re-evaluation of (cultural/natural) ‘heritage’ promoting rhetorical, pragmatic, and political manipulations of the past; the other that features sustainable environmental renewal, promoting an alternative use of natural resources. In cases where heritage status is granted, territories become ‘consecrated’ and conflicts over local politics of history and memory are disguised by a universalistic rhetoric of ‘common good’ for global collectivities. In the latter case, instead, the dimension of environmental ‘sustainability’ assumes a central position, encouraging eco-fantasies and planetary investment in and for the future. While both processes have been carefully scrutinized by recent anthropological literature, their intersections and articulations require further ethnographic as well as theoretical exploration. Heritagization, energopolitics and fantasies of environmental sustainability expose the fractures in neo-liberal economic practice, incorporating universal moral imperatives into their own discourse: in the first case encouraging the preservation of heritage, in the second imagining the safeguarding of the planet. But how do such discourses talk one to each other in actual practice, and how can we possibly grasp their often uneven, unpredictable and multi-scalar connections?

Taking inspiration from emerging ethnographic approaches to ‘global connections’ (A. Tsing), ‘assemblages’ (A. Ong, S. Collier) and strategies of ‘studying through’ (C. Shore & S. Wright), this panel proposes to scrutinize the zones of eco-friction that are formed in these spaces of collision and intersection between global and local pressures, of past and future predicaments, of commitments to protect and commitments to renew. How do politics of the past intersect and articulate with policy and politics of/for the future in these friction-ridden spaces? What specific cultural and historical paths contribute to forging ‘zones of awkward engagement’ with the environment in different ethnographic sites? And what kinds of economic and moral relations stem from the intersection between the entangled phenomena we have mentioned?

We welcome both theoretical and ethnographic contributions, specifically focusing on areas which have been object of intense environmental exploitation and are currently experiencing new forms of discursive and material investment inspired by projects and values of environmental sustainability, heritage conservation and energy-saving.

Please submit a title and 250-word abstract by Tuesday April 4, 2017 to: Mara Benadusi: mara.benadusi@unict.it and Filippo Zerilli: zerilli@unica.it