(A30)
Meeting alternative energetic materialities
Location Bowland North Seminar Room 2
Date and Start Time 26 Jul, 2018 at 11:00
Sessions 1

Convenor

  • Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer (Charles University) email

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Short abstract

This panel invites exploration of engagements with alternative energetic materialities in the encounters of technological, informational & (more-than-) human bodies. What affects, values, socialities & imaginations are generated and what approaches are conducive for researching & disseminating them?

Long abstract

Against the backdrop of climate change, systems of energy have gained attention as culprits of environmental degradation. While usefully flagging the interrelations of humans, environments and technology concepts such as the 'technosphere' (Haff 2014) risk positioning nature as inert ground, worked upon by technology and positing an undifferentiated anthropos as its inadvertent creator and constituent. Approaches building on feminist technoscience attend to how beings are transformed through their encounters with energy in spaces of vulnerability and histories of contamination. Presenting the concept of geologic corporeality to denote how human and earth bodies are formed by the intensification of fossil fuels, Yusoff (2013) has recently argued that a futurity without fossil fuels requires an unlearning of our geological corporeality and a simultaneous reconstitution of alternative energetic materialities.

This panel invites explorations of the engagements with alternative energetic materialities in the encounters of technological, informational and (more-than-) human bodies in and across a range of sites. These might include 'renewable' energy installations, production facilities and participative arts projects. The panel is interested in how alternative energy is practiced, what it effectuates and what is excluded or rendered insensible. What affects, values, socialities and imaginations are generated in such meetings and what approaches are conducive for researching and disseminating them? How does alternative energy become integrated with everyday practices? How might relations of race, gender and class be remade in energetic engagements? And what could it mean to become response-able - to cultivate the capacity for response (Haraway 2016) - in relations with forces that are indifferent to human intervention?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Meeting photovoltaics: a plea for technoecological analysis

Author: Dagmar Lorenz-Meyer (Charles University) email
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Short abstract

This paper proposes the concept of technoecology for analysing solar energy. Denoting the co-constitution of the ecological & technological, technoecology focuses on how solar power remakes particular milieus and ethos in a double process of dis/articulation that attends to constitutive exclusions.

Long abstract

This paper explores the 'mattering' of solar energy in terms of new material energy arrangements and matters of concern. In the face of the perceived enrichment of so-called solar barons photovoltaic installations in the Czech Republic have received negative public attention and subsidies have been phased out. Yet observers currently predict a second Czech solar boom. Drawing on feminist technoscience (Haraway, Star, Stengers) and on ethnographic fieldwork around the largest Czech photovoltaic power plant and interviews in households with solar micro-generation, the paper proposes the frame of technoecology for the analysis of solar energy engagements. Technoecology denotes the immanent co-constitution of the ecological and the technological. Focusing on how solar power remakes particular milieus and their constitutive ethos or capacity, technoecology reworks the political semiotics of articulation in terms of a double process of articulation and disarticulation that attends to constitutive exclusions, 'spaces between' and the immanent tensions in solar development. This concerns the non-participation of local Roma communities in the construction and operation of photovoltaics, the polysilicon waste to come as much as pervasive fears that low voltage solar generated electricity interferes with human bodies and local climates. In considering these dis/articulations technoecologically as a part of solar matterings the paper asks what they might mean for realising the promise of photovoltaics to establish energy abundance and socio-environmental justice through horizontal networks of electricity production and consumption.

Wind, power, and the situatedness of community engagement

Author: Hyomin Kim (Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology) email
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Short abstract

Jeju, an island and a co-terminus province in Korea, became a place to site wind turbines with a high level of public acceptance. We explicate how the interpretation of community engagement in Jeju enabled the imaginaries of a "good" society that can go along with materiality of wind energy.

Long abstract

Jeju, an island and a co-terminus province in Korea, became a place to site wind turbines with an unusually high level of public acceptance. How did this island become a relatively stable place to site wind turbines? In analyzing the processes for constructing Jeju as a sociotechnical system for wind power, we focus on public acceptance formed through community engagement. It is doubtlessly important to inform, consult, and empower the local public through stages of decision-making to achieve more sustainable renewable energy governance. Yet we ask different questions. How does it become plausible for actors in this particular locality to take interest in community engagement and raise public acceptance of wind energy? Based on interviews, media analyses and policy research, we found that community engagement was combined with the collective memory of socioeconomic deprivation in Jeju. This combination enabled community engagement to matter to local actors—residents, the provincial government, and environmental activists. We also discuss that flexible interpretation of community engagement compatible with local residents' hope for economic development provided a space for the imaginaries of a "good" society in economic, aesthetic and moral senses. Drawing upon Jasanoff's notion of sociotechnical imaginaries we argue that Jeju's people's shared understandings of desirable futures were animated by publicly performed visions of social life attainable through advances in technoscience and its participatory governance. We emphasize that community engagement and acceptance of renewable energy do not have singularly given but multiple and situated ways of mattering configured within contexts.

Enacting a responsive energy technology in the aftermath of a disaster: locality, materiality and an alternative imagination

Author: Chihyuan Yang (Lancaster University) email
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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?

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.

Food that matters: exploring the material-discursive boundaries between animal-sourced and vegan food practices

Author: Steffen Hirth (Sustainable Consumption Institute, University of Manchester) email
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Short abstract

In need to 'feed the 9 billion', producing less meat and dairy is still largely overlooked as an alternative to further intensification. This paper explores how boundaries between animal-sourced and vegan food practices are drawn and how they can inform debates on (responsible) productivity.

Long abstract

Today's agriculture in the Global North encourages diets high in animal-protein that depend on the use of fossil fuels. With agricultural policies becoming increasingly aware of the ecological consequences of intensive food production and the undesirability of further deforestation, forms of 'sustainable intensification' based on (bio)technology for doubling agricultural productivity by 2050 are now promoted in view of the rising world population. In need to 'feed the 9 billion', producing less meat and dairy is still largely overlooked as an alternative to further intensification. As keeping animals inevitably goes along with losses of nutritional energy when crops are converted into animal-derived foods, stockfree agriculture holds the possibility of rising productivity requiring neither more land nor further intensification.

Theoretically drawing upon Karen Barad's (2007) relational, posthuman, and new materialist approach to material-discursive practices, this paper explores both animal-sourced and vegan food practices in the context of different foodscapes. Qualitative interviews and website analysis showcase how a 'vegan' supermarket maintains its customer-base by not calling itself 'vegan'; a vegan advocacy network certifies a vegan organic standard of production; a beef farmer converts to vegan organic vegetable growing; a dairy company justifies animal husbandry with the natural suitability of the land. Reading these cases diffractively through another, the paper unravels resonances and dissonances to illustrate what actors are included and excluded in food mattering. By reconfiguring boundaries between animal-sourced and vegan food practices, these case studies inform debates about possible ways to meet 'the universe' halfway in order to materialise nutritional energy responsibly.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.