A Cosmopolitics of Energy

Nuage Vert, HeHeNumerous creative strategies now exist for materializing energy in order to reduce energy use. In a parallel way, social science research at turns engages with the materialities of energy as a strategy or formation that influences participation in energy use. This paper asks how specific materialities of energy are articulated across these social science and design projects, and how these distinct renderings of materiality perform environmental change. Drawing on Stengers, the paper moves to consider the diverging materialities and speculative practices that might emerge through more cosmopolitical approaches to energy. A range of creative practice projects that materialize energy and perform environmental change in different registers is discussed, with attention given to considering how what counts as environmental change shifts within these differently configured material engagements. The paper asks how alternative energies and alternative materialities of energy, might be articulated that are generative and perform through speculative registers of environmental change that may not always be clearly directed toward teleological ends.

A version of this paper was presented at the conference, “Design and Displacement – Social Studies of Science and Technology,” 4S/European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST, 17-20 October 2012, Copenhagen) as part of an Energy and Co-Designing Communities (ECDC)-organized panel, “Design, STS and Cosmopolitics: From Intervention to Emergence in Participation and Sustainability.”

The “Design and Displacement” program book is available to download as a pdf.

An extended version of this paper on the materiality of energy practices has been published as Gabrys J, 2014, “A Cosmopolitics of Energy: Diverging Materialities and Hesitating Practices,” Environment and Planning A 46(9) 2095 – 2109. The paper is also available as a pre-print version.

Research and writing undertaken in this topic area has been carried out in connection to my role on the ECDC project (funded by the ESRC / RCUK Energy Program), and in relation to “Electronic Environmentalism,”a presentation and paper on energy and electronics.

Image: Nuage Vert, HeHe