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Africa's energy futures: energy heterogeneity between enclave and entanglement 
Brenda Chalfin (University of Florida and Aarhus University)
Michael Degani (University of Cambridge)
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Omolade Adunbi (University of Michigan)
Format :
Streams :
Anthropology (x) Infrastructure (y)
Wednesday 31 May, -, Wednesday 31 May, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

Energy innovations are key to African future-making, comprising often unanticipated entanglements of nature, technology and capital. The panel explores how both networked and standalone energy systems interact and their diverse enactments of vulnerability and resilience, governance and citizenship.

Long Abstract:

Amidst the various sites of African future-making, energy stands out as exceptionally captivating and heterogenous. Warfare in Europe opens new potential markets for Africa's natural gas and oil, renewing cycles of resource optimism and energy extraversion. Rural and urban electrical networks expand and densify alongside other grand infrastructural networks such as rail and road and offer new vistas of regional and transnational integration and innovation. Simultaneously, a profusion of relatively autonomous "standalone" energy systems—household solar, small-scale hydropower, bio-gas, and community mini-grids—supplement, inflect or evade these networks, harnessing nature and implying different visions of governance and citizenship in an age of ecological and infrastructural exhaustion. This panel explores Africa's energy futures as they unfold across shifting configurations of enclave and entanglement. It asks: how do local systems obstruct, resist, or ignore claims to authority embodied in state-run, centralized networks? In what ways do they sustain those systems by filling in their gaps? How does private energy infrastructure, and the waste and profit it creates, replay or refute older geographies of corporate concessions and governmental exception? Conversely, how are "standalone" systems, which often require commoditized inputs, dependent on networked supply chains, both global and intra-continental? Moving between self-sufficiency and dependence, connection and disconnection, flexibility and rigidity, the promise and perils of energy autonomy runs through the heart of African futurity. Along with grounded reflections on the terms of energy production, the panel seeks papers on energy consumption and marketing, conservation and regulation, and popular representation.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -
Session 2 Wednesday 31 May, 2023, -