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Accepted Paper:

Industrial Futures: On Imagining Nordic Battery Towns  
Zane Datava (Norwegian University of Science and Technology) Anna-Sophie Hobi (Norwegian University of Life Sciences)

Paper short abstract:

Lithium-ion batteries, seen as 'green' technological solution to the climate crisis mitigation, spark hopes for growth and prosperity. Ethnographic research on the building-up of battery industries in the Nordics explores local imaginaries of battery futures.

Paper long abstract:

Lithium-ion batteries are seen as a 'green' technological fix to the climate crisis. Electrifying transport through Electric Vehicles (EVs) is in full swing; at the same time, Nordic along other European countries are building up their position in the EV battery value chain. Ambitious plans for the construction of Gigafactories are being pursued with the aim to produce the 'greenest' lithium-ion batteries.

The emerging industry comes with a promise of several thousand workplaces. For the smaller towns, in which these large-scale projects are set to be located, the expected population growth presents prospects of 'awakened' towns worth living in after several decades of stagnation. Even though these Gigafactories are not yet producing, their awaited arrival has had a real impact and sparked a collective optimism. Imaginaries connected to the emerging industry are rooted in local industrial pasts and relate to prosperity and change, much more than a dystopian future presented by a global climate crisis.

This paper looks at the imagined futures of 'battery towns' in the Nordics. Based on qualitative field research in four cities in Norway and Sweden, it explores how municipalities, residents and industry representatives engage in future-making practices, by assembling objects, materials, narratives, strategies, and humans for the awaited life with a battery factory. As "humanity's dreams of the future have always been posthuman" (Jasanoff 2016), similarly, the places we are looking at, while mixing with the ideas of the future sites of batteries, are somewhat themselves becoming a technoscientific assemblage of its imagined future and objects creating it.

Panel P022a
Uncommon Explorations between Green Technologies, Climate Hopes, and the Anthropological Imagination I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -