Enacting a responsive energy technology in the aftermath of a disaster: locality, materiality and an alternative imagination
Chihyuan Yang (Lancaster University)
Paper short abstract:
Nationalist high modernism was the dominant sociotechnical imaginary in Taiwan and obsessed with nuclear power. In the aftermath of a massive flood, what is the possibility of enacting an alternative which attributes energy technology to the feelings, identities and materiality grounded in locality?
Paper long abstract:
Nationalist high modernism is the dominant sociotechnical imaginary in post-war East Asian countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, involving the belief that the modernisation of industry and the deployment of energy technoscience will ensure the autonomy of the nation. However, the imaginary in Taiwan was neither homogeneous nor not confronted by other challenging imaginaries. Inspired by the concept of 'ethno-epistemic assemblages', I explore the messiness of knowledge-making and sense-making and how a fluid technology like PV can be assembled on the contexts of native feelings, the local history and environment. A short history of Linbian and Jiadong is presented to situate the cases of the programme of 'Cultivating Water and Generating Electricity'; transforming from rice paddy and banana plantation to eel and grass shrimp fishery, and later to the farming of groupers and wax apple planting, local farmers do not just repeat routines on a daily basis but also reassemble farming techniques and the materials at hand. Typhoon Morakot made landfall on Taiwan in 2009, and since then local community has been anxious about the future of local life. The post-reconstruction policy is to transform some key factors in the local ethno-epistemic assemblage (e.g. enrolling a species of seawater grouper and a technology of digitalised pumping plant), instead of simply ordering the current assemblage to dissolve and to build a new one. At the same time, floating PV and PV greenhouse technologies, as an alternative, are assembled with the feelings of making a contribution to the hometown.
Meeting alternative energetic materialities