This workshop will contribute to an emerging anthropology of energy. Starting from the recent German "Energiewende" we will discuss case studies of energy transitions, and ask how these transformations change the net of power lines in a political and energetic sense.
In times of climate change, energy supply is one of the greatest challenges, and its future direction is more open than ever. While energy is discussed mostly in terms of engineering and spatial planning, this workshop seeks to capture the cultural dynamics of this transformation. The local nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima had global repercussions. The most spectacular one maybe in Germany, where the government surprisingly announced a nuclear phase out and put its bets on renewable energies. The so-called Western world discusses green alternatives, but in the developing countries great parts of the population are still not connected to electricity at all; the challenges are on all levels, and transformations point into different directions. While our energy future is a global challenge, the energy transitions will be implemented locally. Agrarian landscapes are turned into energy landscapes, producing bio-fuel, wind energy, solar energy, bio-mass etc. Local power structures will be connected to or disconnect themselves from transnational power lines; new infrastructures will emerge or old ones will be transformed; power lines in the energetic and political sense will rapidly change the face of societies. In this workshop, we will present case studies including both the global and the local dimension of energy transitions of all kinds from a multi-sited perspective. The anthropology of energy allows to reflect on the uncertain futures of energy transitions in an ever more connected world.
Electricity as a cultural concept implicated in everyday practices: a comparison of French and Norwegian responses to policy appeals for sustainable energy