We’ve recently published two papers (both of which will be in volume 49 of Antipode in 2017) on energy politics – Susana Batel and Patrick Devine-Wright’s “Energy Colonialism and the Role of the Global in Local Responses to New Energy Infrastructures in the UK: A Critical and Exploratory Empirical Analysis” and James Angel’s “Towards an Energy Politics In-Against-and-Beyond the State: Berlin’s Struggle for Energy Democracy” – which we think speak to each other in a number of interesting and productive ways.
Susana and Patrick’s essay looks at the development, in the UK, of large-scale low-carbon energy infrastructures (including renewable energy projects and associated technologies such as power lines) to mitigate climate change, exploring the ways in which communities affected by them understand issues of environmental justice and energy colonialism, among others, often within a global perspective. They question if and how intergroup relations and collective narratives, including those around histories of colonialism, shape people’s social-psychological and geographical imaginaries and responses to the new energy infrastructures.
James’ essay, on the other hand, examines social movements developing an imaginary of “energy democracy” to signify the emancipatory energy transitions they desire. Taking a scholar-activist perspective, his paper contributes to debates around the concretisation of the energy democracy imaginary by exploring the relationship of social movements to the state. His focus is on the experiences of the Berliner Energietisch (“Berlin Energy Roundtable”) campaign, which in 2013 forced (and lost) a referendum aiming to extend and democratise the local state’s role in energy governance.
Both papers hold out lessons for those interested in the ways people interpret, cope with, and struggle to enact change–engaging with the state in all kinds of ways. You can watch their authors talking about them below…
Based at the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa and the University of Exeter respectively, Susana and Patrick’s work on environmental actions and place-based responses to energy infrastructure has appeared in Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, the Journal of Environmental Psychology, and Papers on Social Representations, among other places; James is currently a grad student, working with Alex Loftus and Raymond Bryant, at King’s College London.