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.

Socio-technical Transitions and Practices: Insights into Environmental Sustainability

The multi-level analytical framework of socio-technical transitions promoted since the beginning of the 2000s (Grin, Rotmans and Schot 2011; Smith, Voß and Grin 2010; Geels 2002; 2011) has been recently brought into question by taking into consideration materiality, the dispersed and uneven distribution of agency and power, and the importance of (historical, spatial and political) context (Avelino et al. 2016). As pointed out by various criticisms, the multi-level perspective on socio-technical transitions often assumes a vertical trajectory, is too focused on institutions, and – methodologically – is based on secondary analyses of official data. By linking these criticisms with sustainability issues, moreover, inconsistencies and ambivalences emerge, as several contributions have shown especially in the renewable energy sector (e.g. Schreuer 2016; Scotti and Minervini 2016). This reminds us of the ambiguous meaning of the notion of ‘sustainability’ (Redclift 2005; Moneva, Archel and Correa 2006; Hornborg 2015; Rice 2007; Gottschlich and Bellina 2016). Furthermore, from a Science and Technology Studies (STS) perspective, Shove and Walker (2007; 2010) have suggested the need to reconsider the multi-level approach to socio-technical transitions by taking into account the practice level. This means to analyse, on the one hand, the mutual relationship between technologies and innovation paths; on the other, how these relate with practitioners.

In recent years, transition studies have actually turned to the practice theory approach, especially drawing on STS theoretical perspectives (Chilvers and Longhurst 2016), as well as on a renewed interest for the material components of innovation processes (Hoffman and Loeber 2015). In this framework, socio-technical transitions are regarded as the outcome of co-production processes simultaneously involving human and non-human actors.

Intensifying contaminations between the field of socio-technical transitions and the field of practices ask for a systematic reflection. This special issue of Tecnoscienza. The Italian Journal of Science & Technology Studies aims therefore to offer a venue for contributions addressing environmental sustainability by linking socio-technical transitions and practices. An STS perspective may in particular shed light on the role of non-human agency in co-shaping the everyday practices involved in the transition towards sustainability. Innovation experiences, for instance, may be both fostered and hindered by material elements or broad infrastructures in which local practices are embedded, and we need a better understanding of the factors leading to the one or the other outcome.

This special issue invites paper submissions including, but not limited to, the following themes: mobility; waste management; food production, consumption and supply; energy consumption and production.

Key research questions to be addressed include the following:

  • Are there competing (human/non-human) networks around a same sustainable transition goal? What shape do they take? Do they interact in some way?
  • What are the actants that play a role in a local network?
  • How can the issue of “path dependency” be explored through the lens of practices?
  • What are the practices that characterize a socio-technical transition process in a specific context (e.g. everyday mobility strategies; personal care; dietary choice and food consumption; heating)?

A further aim of the special issue is to include a variety of geographical and societal contexts. The link between growth and sustainability in socio-technical transitions implies several political consequences, in terms of Global North-South divide as well as at local level. For instance, governments – especially in the European Union – are engaged in promoting investments in the energy sector to pursue climate emissions reduction, yet the actual implementation of these efforts does not distribute benefits equitably among the territories involved in the process. Similarly, the dominant account of sustainability has a specific cultural connotation, since it originates in the Global North (Gottschlich and Bellina 2016). Therefore, cases from the Global South may enrich the reflection we wish to develop.

Deadline for abstract submissions: December 15th, 2017

Abstracts (in English) with a maximum length of 500 words should be sent as email attachments to and carbon copied to the guest editors. Notifications of acceptance will be communicated by January 2017. Full papers (in English with a maximum length of 8,000 words including notes and references) will be due by April 30th, 2018 and will be subject to a double-blind peer review process. The special issue is expected to be published in 2019.

For information and questions, please do not hesitate to contact the guest editors:

Paolo Giardullo,

Sonia Brondi,

Luigi Pellizzoni,