Accepted Paper:

Coping and Adjustment in the Resettlement Process. Questions regarding Energy Consumption and Resettlement  


Valeska Flor (University of Bonn)

Paper short abstract:

Lignite mining is part of the German "hunger for energy". This has very real consequences for thousands of people in Germany who have to resettle in order to make room for excavations. The ambivalence of energy production, consumption, and the consequences for resettlers is presented in this paper.

Paper long abstract:

The main reason for the mining of lignite and the accompanying resettlement of people is the German energy requirement. This energy requirement has to be met. In Germany this is done by using a mixture of fossil fuel energy, nuclear power and renewable energy sources. The contribution of coal in this mixture has decreased but still has its use. Although renewable energies are to be supported during the course of the energy transition, they cannot cover the entire energy requirement of the country. In connection to this, "lignite" is presented as a partner and transitory technology to cover energy requirements. Therefore, fossil energies are still an integral part of the supply of energy.

But the "hunger for energy" has very real consequences for thousands of people in the Rhenish lignite who have to resettle. An ethnography of the Rhenish lignite area has shown the ambivalence of energy production, consumption, and climate-damaging consequences: there are ethical questions regarding energy politics and resettlements, but then again the increasing energy demands of (post)modern societies need to be fulfilled and fossil fuels are still seen and defined a necessity. In the paper I will present coping strategies of resettlers especially with regard to their own reflective energy consumption, their politicization, their reflections about staying or moving, and their intimate knowledge about being part of a normative political process. Furthermore, I will highlight the possibilities (and problems) of my empirical research focus - the narratives of the resettlers - which offered new insights about the complexity of socio-ecological imagination, knowledge, and memory regarding energy.

Panel P025
Energy in motion [Energy Anthropology Network]