Assistant Professor, Durham University

Vacancy reference: anth20-2

Department: Anthropology

Responsible to: Head of Department

Grade: 7-8

Salary range: £33,797- £49,553per annum

Working arrangements: The role is full time but we will consider requests for flexible working arrangements including potential job shares

Opening date: 27/11/2019

Closing date: 24/01/2020

Preferred start date: Successful candidates will ideally be in post by 01/09/2020

The role

We are seeking to appoint up to four Associate Professors in Social Anthropology. Applicants must demonstrate research excellence in the field of Social Anthropology, with the ability to teach our students to an exceptional standard and to fully engage in the services, citizenship and values of the University. The University provides a working and teaching environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate these key principles as part of the assessment process.

We are open to outstanding applications in any area of Social Anthropology. Our department has particular research strengths in energy and environment; expertise and knowledge; aesthetics and material culture; medicine and health; and political anthropology. We are looking to appoint candidates who will complement or synergise with research in these areas.

We are also open to any regional specialisms. We particularly welcome applicants with regional specialisms in the Anthropology of China to help build our teaching, research and postgraduate supervision in this area.

Candidates will be expected to contribute to team-taught core social anthropology modules at level one and two, where our focus is on politics, economics, kinship, religion, the anthropology of health and ethnographic methods. It is expected that successful applicants will be able to contribute strongly to at least two of these areas.

Post-holders will be expected to deliver an advanced Level 3 module on a specialist topic in social anthropology, relating to their own research; they will supervise both undergraduate and postgraduate dissertations and contribute to Social Anthropology teaching at Master’s level. Successful candidates will be asked to undertake additional duties around teaching, learning and student recruitment within the Department as required. Appointed candidates may be asked to teach on one of our undergraduate field-courses, though this is not a requirement.

The Anthropology Department at Durham University has an outstanding international reputation for teaching, research and student employability. We are one of the largest Anthropology Departments in the UK, with nearly 40 permanent academic staff working across social, evolutionary and health anthropology.

The Department of Anthropology has a vibrant research culture with many visitors, seminars, global conferences and workshops. We aim to foster an intellectually inclusive environment, fostering the academic freedom and confidence to work at both the core and boundaries of anthropology in exciting and innovative ways. We were the top-ranked integrated Anthropology department in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014); fifth in the UK for overall GPA (Times Higher Education); first equal for world-leading and internationally-excellent Impact and Research Environment, and second equal for world- leading publications.

Download the full job description as a PDF.

Permanent associate professor in climate and energy transformation

A permanent position as associate professor of political science/public policy within climate and energy transformation in Bergen, Norway.

The position is with Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation, and hosted by the Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen. It requires a PhD in political science, public policy or other social sciences with relevance for the Department. Energy geographers who have sufficiently strong background in this realm may qualify.

Associate professor at the Department of Administration and Organization Theory within climate and energy transformation

We welcome you to apply for a full-time permanent tenured position as Associate Professor at the Department of Administration and Organization Theory, University of Bergen, within the field of climate and energy transformation. The Department of Administration and Organization Theory hosts the position, in collaboration with the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET). The position will contribute to strengthening research, education and project development at the Department and CET within climate and energy transformation, which is a priority area at the University of Bergen.

The Department of Administration and Organization Theory<> combines political science with an organizational approach to public policy, public administration, and political institutions.

The Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET)<> is an interdisciplinary research centre aiming at producing actionable knowledge about how to achieve deep, rapid and sustainable transformation of society to meet the climate challenge.

Applicants are advised to consult and make themselves familiar with the teaching and research profile of the department as well as CET. Please see:

We seek a dedicated candidate with collaborative skills to engage in research, supervision and teaching at the Department and CET. Personal aptitude will be important for the position. Among the qualifications we seek are:

 *   A Ph.D. in political science, public administration or other social sciences, with relevance for the Department’s profile.
 *   A strong academic background and documented expertise within the profile of the Department and with a documented specialization within the field of climate change, energy transition and/or societal transformation. This implies a demonstrated ability to publish research at a high international level beyond the PhD dissertation.

Application deadline: 15 September, 2019. Please find more information about the position at Jobbnorge:

EASA Conference panel 25: Energy in Motion

EASA 2018 conference in Stockholm was the occasion for the EAN Network’s first fully fledged energy panel. A strong line up of papers reflected the quality of current anthropological research in the field, and the growing interest in an expanding range of topics. The theme of the panel was ‘Energy in Motion’, reflecting the conference theme: ‘Staying, Moving , Settling’.


Papers touched on themes relating to the state and citizenship, superstate or transnational agendas, resource colonies and participatory planning, economic citizenship and ethics, to name but the most prominent. Importantly for the network, the first paper reported on efforts to ensure that anthropology is well represented in European energy research, through the SHAPE-ENERGY project (‘Social Sciences and Humanities for Advancing Policy in European Energy’), but the findings reported raise some concerns. The project set out without a well considered methodology, and although it tried to incorporate ‘stakeholder participation’, it committed elementary mistakes, such a demanding that minimally trained researchers try to combine running multi-stakeholder meetings while also trying to observe and report on them.  Nathalie Ortar presented a troubling case, raising concerns that even in a project that aims to include social sciences and humanities in energy research, the humanities were completely excluded, and the social science was deeply flawed. Where was the critique in the development of the project? Why did it start from the EU Comission’s premise (ie energy behaviour change) rather than  those posited the SSH disciplines? Where in the broader project are studies of energy practices, analyses of bureaucratic organisations, powers of capital, political dilemmas, oppositions and resistances, systems of exchange and distribution, or other questions that are of concern to social sciences? And how were anthropological ideas so clearly sidelined? Given the role of this project in purportedly shaping the Comission’s research agenda in energy in the coming years, it is crucial that we put forward our collective views from Anthropology about what we think should be on the agenda.

The other papers amply demonstrated what value can be gained from anthropological research. Several of them addressed questions about energy as an abstract and analytic concept that has is also a concept of state and science, and is already embedded in hierarchies of power. The term itself may be alienating in some circumstances, and rarely unites people politically in ways that can dominate the political agenda. At the same time, the ‘energy nexus’ is on the move – while concepts like ‘transition’ suggest before and after states, multiple and intersecting energy systems are constantly in motion and difficult to pin down. Where they are represented as fixed (eg as material infrastructure), then attention must be paid to the means by which stability is conjured, by whom, and to what effect. 

In one of Europe’s largest gas fields, apparently stable things are quite literally moving. Elisabeth Moolenaar showed how the early days of gas extraction in the northern Netherlands in the 1960s were associated with national solidarity, as profits from international gas exports were ploughed into a national rail system and other social programmes. The national gas company gained respect as a good employer, and gas became a ‘national treasure’. Fast forward to the 2010s and increasingly damaging earthquakes were causing significant structural damage to houses and other properties in what is one of the Netherlands’ poorer and peripheral areas. Suddenly, gas is no longer a treasure but a curse, and the state is no longer the great provider but a ‘gas mafia’ who extract resource from the region and leave it in ruins. Environmentalism and conservation bring new energy subjectivities into play, as early resistance to wind turbines takes on new shades of green. Citizens become energy experts, while craving recognition from the state that appears as a kind of renegade parent. A new formation, ‘gas opposition’ sees activists generate solidarity with First Nation Americans and Nigerians in their suffering caused by the actions of the Dutch oil multinational, Shell.

The role of such multinationals, and the differences between them, was the subject broached by Ståle Knudsen, who began by pointing out that over 70% of world oil is owned by national companies. Reporting on a project entitled ‘Energethics’, Ståle showed how Nordic energy companies prefer not to employ philanthropy in their interpretation of Corporate Social Responsibility, but prefer to talk about environmental and social management of sustainable livelihoods. But this causes difficulties when they begin to operate in countries such as Turkey, where philanthropy is the primary mode of corporate plenitude. Nordic discourses about social responsibility and competitive edge fall flat, and employees struggle to reconcile the demands from HQ for good-news stories with the local context in the countries of operation. For electricity corporations, engaging in electrical development means engaging with grids, which in turn are are kind of state-technology nexus. Agnese Cimdina elaborated on the role of Nordic corporations struggling to gain a foothold in the United Arab Emirates. Despite persistent attempts to buy into the UAE’s energy market, corporations such as Statoil have failed to make headway, despite the enormous, even hubristic ambitions of the UAE organisers of Expo2020 and the World Future Energy Summit, to transform hundreds of hectares of desert into an exhibition city. In the UAE, social relations always go before business relations, whereas the Nordic model starts from business and fails to make progress.

Where, then, are the spaces for insertion into infrastructural matrices for different actors, whether corporations, entrepreneurs, or the citizens, community groups and activists that Moolenaar and others described? And what of the many people displaced by energy developments, such as the coal-communities of North Rhein Westphalia described by Valeska Flor? Flor adopted a scheme devised by Scudder and Colson in 1982 to evaluate the role of self-determination in mitigating the effects of forced resettlement. According to her findings, where citizens participate in the resettlement planning and implementation, they find it easier to find ways to cope with the immense upheaval of moving not only house but village and community. For such citizens, becoming an ‘energy expert’ can be an  important role that allows people to be independent of the energy companies who are responsible for destroying their homes. Energy citizenship here is articulated in terms of agency and respect, as the state’s commitment to enforcing unlimited energy supply has consequences that are not born equally among citizens.

Of course, such uneven effects are not to be found only in Europe, far from it. High ambitions for rapid transitions away from fossil fuels in Nepal, for example, could have dire consequence for those Nepalis who rely on cheaper, more accessible and flexible fuels such as kerosine. According to Mikkel Vindegg, a radical crackdown on corruption in the electricity sector in Nepal in 2016 improved the situation, but did not bring an end to ‘load shedding’, the regular switching off of supply district by district that is used to deal with the lack of generating capacity. In such a context, the adoption of solar panels might be expected to be attractive, but the additional cost of equipment, including inverters or batteries mean that solar has not been adopted as a household solution to blackouts, as fossil fuels have, not least because solar power is seen to serve the grid, not the household. Once again the ambivalent role of the state as both provider and beneficiary causes unease about so-called ‘transitions’. Where people, in addition, are subject to migration and/or urbanisation, particularly in peri-urban settlements, the benefits of any kind of grid may be beyond their reach. Ben Campbell criticised a techno-agenda focused on ‘end users’ which ignores narratives of energy resilience that might be better served by categories of need. His current project,  ‘Energy on the Move’ addresses many such issues in Nigeria, Nepal, Bangladesh and South Sudan, focusing on gendered practices, informality, safety and health. He raised questions about the social and collective energy infrastructures such as the provision of diesel-generated electricity through patronage networks that do not fall within market rationalities.

Martin Fronck characterised ideas about future energies not as technical problems, but as political and ethical challenges between incommensurable forms of knowledge. In Southern Chile, a national ambition to achieve 70% renewable energy brings great pressure to develop geothermal resources found primarily in Mapuche regions of the Andes. Classic political discourses of ‘remote’ areas as locations of ‘undeveloped resources’ have brought significant scientific funding to explore geothermal possibilities. Martin showed images of a landscape littered with defunct experimental equipment in an environment experienced by Mapuche as alive with spirits whom humans should request permission from for any incursion into forests or mountains. Ruins of geological curiosity and failed future-visions risk enraging the spirits who may rend the land asunder through eruptions and earthquakes. Martin reminded us that geoscientists cn also experience an ethics of care, and the powers of embodied experience, but that the language of science promotes stabilisation and depersonalisation. Scientific methods promote distance as a resource, but require proximity for experimentation, at least temporarily. And here, again, we see science being used as a tool of statecraft, with state patronage for science that is not matched for citizens.

Together, these papers raised an array of questions for energy anthropology, about the role of  states and international bodies in energy infrastructures, the politics of energy transitions and the materiality of energetic visions, future and past. There is much work to be done, and impressive degrees of enthusiasm from anthropologists engaging in a myriad of energy questions, making it all the more urgent that European research agendas and opportunities make space for this exciting and productive research.


Simone Abram

September 2018

Appel à CR critiques: ‘Courants’ anthropologiques. Pratiques et critiques de l’énergie

Appel à comptes rendus critiques : Lectures anthropologiques

Numéro thématique

‘Courants’ anthropologiques. Pratiques et critiques de l’énergie 


Coordinateurs du numéro :

Nathalie Ortar, Université de Lyon, ENTPE/LAET

Tristan Loloum, Université de Tours


Lectures anthropologiques est une revue francophone, en ligne, entièrement dévolue aux comptes rendus critiques. Le présent appel à comptes rendus critiques porte sur les travaux récents ayant pour thème l’énergie.

Après avoir été longtemps absente des préoccupations de l’anthropologie mainstream, l’énergie semble progressivement s’imposer comme un objet légitime de l’anthropologie contemporaine. Cette dynamique s’est développée à la faveur d’un « tournant post-humaniste » des sciences sociales, soit un courant de pensée né à la fin du XXe siècle, qui traite du rapport de l’humain aux technologies et du changement radical et inéluctable que cette relation a provoqué ou risque de provoquer dans l’avenir (théorie de l’acteur-réseau, réflexion sur l’anthropocène, les Science and Technology Studies, etc.), du sentiment d’urgence induit par le réchauffement climatique et des nouvelles tensions et incertitudes induites par la « transition énergétique » (passage des énergies fossiles aux renouvelables, réduction de la consommation, sortie du nucléaire, etc.). Ces changements infrastructurels interrogent l’anthropologie sociale dès lors qu’ils affectent non seulement nos rapports symboliques et matériels à l’énergie, mais aussi nos rapports sociaux et politiques en général.

Les usages de l’énergie – à commencer par la maîtrise du feu – devraient pourtant figurer parmi les objets classiques de l’anthropologie tant ils interrogent notre rapport au monde et notre capacité à satisfaire certains besoins élémentaires, comme se nourrir ou se chauffer. Thématique centrale pour des anthropologues comme Leslie White (1943)[1], l’énergie s’est peu à peu effacée des discussions anthropologiques dans les années 1970, en même temps que les théories évolutionnistes, pour se diluer dans d’autres objets de recherche (communautés, ressources, environnement, développement, etc.) ou dans la recherche « appliquée » (Boyer 2014 :313-314 ; Clarke 2015 : 203-204). Hormis les travaux de Laura Nader (1981) critiquant l’influence de la « culture des experts de l’énergie » sur les politiques publiques américaines, force est de constater que l’anthropologie sociale s’est peu saisie de ces thématiques jusque dans les années 2000 (Strauss et Orlove 2003 ; Wilhite 2005 ; Henning 2005 ; Love 2008). La multiplication ces dernières années d’ouvrages, numéros spéciaux et conférences abordant l’énergie sous l’angle des sciences sociales atteste d’un nouvel engouement pour le sujet.

Plusieurs facteurs peuvent expliquer cette résurgence de l’objet « énergie ». Premièrement, les inquiétudes et remises en question suscitées par les crises environnementales et climatiques nous poussent à reconsidérer nos modes de vie, nos environnements techniques et les systèmes de savoirs qui les soutiennent. Il n’est dès lors pas surprenant que les anthropologues soient de plus en plus enclins à se saisir de ces enjeux qui remettent en cause le fondement des sociétés contemporaines au Nord comme au Sud. À cette curiosité intrinsèque de scientifiques confrontés à l’actualité de la transition énergétique (efficacité énergétique, durabilité, libéralisation des marchés de l’électricité, etc.) dont les conséquences sont autant sociales, économiques (Melosi 2010) que culturelles (Nader, 2010), se combine une demande de plus en plus pressante à l’endroit des sciences sociales, adressée par les politiques et les industriels pour comprendre les problèmes associés aux nouveaux défis technologiques, économiques et comportementaux qu’impliquent cette transition énergétique, et le cas échéant, pour les résoudre. Ce regain d’intérêt pour l’énergie s’inscrit à son tour dans un mouvement épistémologique plus global des sciences sociales tendant vers une plus grande inclusion des « non-humains » (nature, animaux, techniques, infrastructures, objets, etc.) dans l’analyse des faits sociaux. Cela se traduit à la fois par un renouvellement théorique (tournant ontologique, post-humanisme, anthropocène, acteur-réseau, etc.) et une reconfiguration institutionnelle des savoirs, avec la montée en puissance de « studies » (Science and Technology Studies, Infrastructure Studies, Energy Studies) et autres « humanités » à thème (Environmental Humanities, Energy Humanities) situées au carrefour de plusieurs disciplines.

L’objectif de ce numéro spécial est donc double. Dans un premier temps, il vise à s’emparer de contributions anthropologiques récentes portant sur les enjeux sociaux, culturels et politiques de l’énergie, pour montrer la pluralité des approches retenues: tant dans les objets investis, les échelles retenues (du foyer au réseau, en passant par l’immeuble, la collectivité et la gouvernance) que les choix théoriques (économie politique, Actor Network Theory, théorie de la pratique, etc.) et méthodologiques (observation participante, biographies, anthropologie visuelle, sensorielle, anthropologie appliquée, etc.) adoptés. Cette partie interroge également la « demande sociale » émanant des entreprises productrices d’énergie et des collectivités territoriales faisant appel à des anthropologues pour mieux comprendre les « usagers ». Une sous-partie questionne les conditions du « marché scientifique » poussant des étudiants et des chercheurs vers des thématiques potentiellement porteuses en termes de débouchés et de financements. Dans un second temps, il cherche à mieux comprendre la nature des enjeux sociaux entourant les systèmes énergétiques – entendus comme toute installation ou ensemble d’installations intervenant dans la chaine de transformation-distribution-utilisation de l’énergie dans un contexte donné (pays, agglomération, usine, etc.). On cherchera également à comprendre les effets des transferts et transformations des matériaux énergétiques sur l’ensemble des phénomènes sociopolitiques. Il s’agira ainsi d’interroger en quoi l’anthropologie et l’ethnographie peuvent apporter des éclairages nouveaux sur la nature politique de l’énergie (Boyer 2014 : 325-326).

Publications proposées :

  • Atabaki, Touraj, Bini, Elisabetta, Ehsani, Kaveh (dir.), 2018, Working for Oil. Comparative Social Histories of Labor in the Global Oil Industry, Basingstoke, Palgrave.
  • Garabuau-Moussaoui, Isabelle, Magali Pierre (dir.), 2016, Pratiques sociales et usages de l’énergie, Paris, Lavoisier-Tec & Doc, Socio-économie de l’énergie.
  • Howe Cyme (coord.), 2015, “Energy Transitions and Climate Change in Latin America” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, vol. 20, n°2.
  • Jaume Franquesa, 2018, Power Struggles. Dignity, Value, and the Renewable Energy Frontier in Spain, Bloomington, Indiana University Press.
  • Love Thomas, Cindy Isenhour (coord.), 2016, « Energy and economy: Recognizing high‐energy modernity as a historical period », Economic Anthropology, 3, n°1.
  • McNeish, John-Andrew, Axel Borchgrevink, Owen Logan, 2015, Contested powers: the politics of energy and development in Latin America, Londres, Zed Books.
  • Smith Jessica, High Mette (coord.), 2017, « Exploring the Anthropology of Energy: Ethnography, Energy and Ethics », Energy Research & Social Science, vol. 30.
  • Wilhite Harold, 2015, The Political Economy of a Low Carbon Transformation: Breaking the Habits of Expansive Capitalism, Londres, Routledge.
  • Coleman Leo, 2017, Moral Technology. Electrification as Political Ritual in New Delhi, Ithaca, Cornell University Press.


Soumettre une proposition

Les propositions de comptes rendus critiques doivent être soumises à et (copie à :,  avant le 1er juillet 2018.

Elles doivent comprendre, dans les éléments suivants :

– Les références de l’ouvrage choisi

– Les prénom et nom de l’auteur.e. – Affiliation institutionnelle – Courriel

– Une notice biographique (max 10 lignes)

Les auteur-e-s seront avisé-e-s par retour du courrier des propositions retenues comme celles non retenues. L’acceptation de la proposition ne signifie pas systématiquement celle du texte final, qui fera l’objet d’une relecture des coordinateurs puis d’une double évaluation.



1er juillet 2018 : date limite pour l’envoi d’une proposition

2 novembre 2018 : réception des articles complets

Hiver 2019 : évaluation des articles par les coordinateurs puis les évaluateurs choisis par le comité de rédaction de Lectures anthropologiques et, reprise des textes par les auteurs.

Mars 2019 : remise des textes finaux, travail éditorial

Avril 2019 : Parution du numéro


[1] Il donne son nom à la « Loi de White », qui stipule que l’évolution culturelle est fonction de la quantité d’énergie disponible par tête d’habitant et par an.

CFP for ERSS: Problems of method in the social study of energy and climate change

CFP for Energy Research and Social Science 

Edited by James Goodman and Jonathan Paul Marshall, University of Technology Sydney

Energy and climate change are intimately related, as the main causes of climate change have to do with the production, politics, organisation and technology of energy. Social processes, rooted in prevailing models of capitalism and development, and the associated patterns of energyproduction and use, are altering world ecology and society. Researching questions of energy transition and climate change, poses profound questions for the methods of both social science and energy research.

This Special Issue aims to explore insights arising from how we go about researching energy and climate change from a social perspective. The questions and dilemmas that arise during research are both significant in themselves, and highly revealing of wider issues. Consequently we ask contributors to begin with their direct experience of undertaking research into the social aspects of energy and climate, and to use that experience, and the problems of method evoked, to explore the conundrums we face as part of a wider society being transformed by climate change and related forms of social action.

There are several matters which immediately call for attention:

  1. There are questions about the role of interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary or multi-methods research in grappling with interwoven socio-ecological contexts and their different knowledges;
  2. The extent to which climate and energy research necessarily engages with normative priorities and agendas for political agency, such as the politicization of knowledge;
  3. The degree to which the abstracted and distanced character of climate change creates conflicts between levels and aspects of social action.

There are also more practical issues such as:

  1. How to combine ecological processes with social processes;
  2. How to relate the qualitative experience of climate change with the quantitative ‘big data’ of climate science; and
  3. Problems of how to build methods of data collection and analysis in complex, multileveled situations.

This list of possible concerns is not meant to be exhaustive, but all these concerns engage, in one way or another, with the wider methodological and epistemological questions of how social scientists can bring the socio-ecological imagination to bear, to address the political relations between energy and climate change, and be sensitive to the consequences of the tools they employ. We are interested in papers from all kinds of social and cross-disciplinary research, including anthropology, economics, social psychology, political economy, statistical sociology, political science, cultural studies, social ecology, human geography, social studies of science and their various combinations.

Ideally papers would show how issues of method or methodology transformed a particular empirical study and opened insights into the nature of the social, and other, dynamics involved.

Time Table

Abstracts to be in by August 1st, 2017. Notification of acceptance by August 15th, 2017.

Papers due by November 1st, 2017, or earlier.

Final decision: June 1st, 2018.

Publication around July, 2018.


Please send abstracts to: &

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