Accepted Paper:

The urban food-water-energy nexus as an ecology of practices  


Ralitsa Hiteva (University of Sussex)
Fiona Marshall (University of Sussex)
Saurabh Arora (University of Sussex)

Paper Short Abstract:

An innovative approach to understanding the multiform (dis)connections between food, water and energy in the city by focusing on practices of sustenance, performed by heterogeneous assemblages (of human and nonhuman elements) and dis/entangled in ecologies through obligations and requirements.

Paper long abstract:

This paper introduces an innovative approach to understanding the multiform connections and disconnections between food, water and energy in the city. It does so by developing and examining the concept of ecology of practices, as used to appreciate people's sustenance practices in Sofia, Bulgaria. Specific practices under focus include food conservation for the winter and urban gardening.

Building on work by Isabelle Stengers, the paper proposes an approach allowing for a more distributed understanding of agency inclusive of the contribution to agency made by the nonhuman environment and by the ecological relations between different practices. Emerging at the intersection of STS and practice theory, the term ecology here points to: 1) a milieu in the middle of which a practice comes into being, thrives or dies; and 2) multiform relations between practices which change over time. Practices of sustenance are performed by heterogeneous assemblages consisting of human and nonhuman (animate and inanimate) entities that are entangled into performing practices through a set of obligations and requirements.

Using qualitative data and case studies of practices of sustenance collected through shadowing, observation and semi-structured interviews between July 2017 and March 2018, the paper outlines the potential for influencing the provisioning of food, water and energy within urban environments towards more resilient assemblages and ecologies of practices through interventions which create new interfaces between nexus perspectives, policies and practices.

Panel C07
Intersections and meetings between practice theory and STS