The practice of post-apartheid gender and environmental justice through the materiality of energy
(University of Queensland)
Paper short abstract:
The paper investigates the interplay between the materiality of energy technologies, and the way in which such materiality is imbued with values which bring into being South African post-apartheid gendered 'sociotechnical dreamscapes' through their use by women in their daily practices.
Paper long abstract:
The paper investigates the interplay between the materiality of energy technologies, and the way in which such materiality is collectively held and imbued with values in South African post-apartheid gendered 'sociotechnical dreamscapes', or narratives of the future articulated through technology. It draws upon research on the role played by energy technologies and infrastructure in women's empowerment, and will present data collected in research with three groups of women organising around energy issues in urban and peri-urban South Africa.
Energy infrastructure has been historically been politicised in South Africa, as a tool of both racial segregation and governance and anti-apartheid resistance and remains contested in contemporary post-apartheid South Africa. For socially-marginalised women, the materiality of energy technologies enables and constrains physical and lived opportunities in women's lives. On the other hand, energy technologies and materials are used by organised women to practice and bring into being an environmentally-just and gender-equitable future. In this way, narratives and visions of transition, justice, and empowerment are brought into lived reality through the daily use of energy materials including fuel and electricity.
The paper takes an interdisciplinary approach, drawing from gender and development theory while taking and extending upon a theories of practices framework. It considers the intersection of materials, action and meaning in energy practices, and how energy technologies and infrastructure constitute both materiality and meanings that are practiced with implications for gender equality and environmental justice.
Stuff of substance: valuing the tangible in transient states