This panel aims to explore the many forms of political power embedded in energy grids, from resource extraction to daily consumption. We are particularly interested in contributions that focus on the discursive and symbolic dimensions of energy and their historical incorporation in the body politic.
This panel aims to explore the many forms of political power embedded in energy grids, from resource extraction to daily consumption. Just like energy, political power is intangible and diffuse; it strikes societies when channelled through techno-political infrastructures, imaginaries and legalities. Power is a classic theme in social anthropology, but it is only recently that authors have started investigating the energetics of power and the politics of energy. Pioneering works like Mitchell's Carbon Democracy (2011) are questioning the role of energy infrastructure on the crafting of modern states and corporations, expert and local knowledge, identities and habits, households and communities. Dominic Boyer (2014) calls for a revisit of critical theory in the light of energy, applying Marxian theory to modes of energy production, or extending Foucault's notion of biopower to « energopower ». For this panel, we are interested in contributions that focus on the govern-mentality of energy, that is, the discursive and symbolic dimensions of energy, their historical incorporation in the body politic and the power/knowledge articulations on which they stand. A reflexive consideration could also be given to the increasingly frequent collaborations between energy actors and social scientists in order to change energy behaviours. Then, to what could possibly look like a critical theory of energy? More generally, we would like to initiate discussions on how can the legacies of political anthropology contribute to envisioning energetic futures differently, and conversely, how can energy studies shed a new light on the understanding of contemporary power?