Special Issues


 

Energy and Ethics?


Edited by Mette M. High and Jessica M. Smith

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Volume 25, Issue S1 (March 2019)

Abstract

Growing anthropological research on energy provides critical explorations into the cross-cultural ways in which people perceive and use this fundamental resource. We argue that two dominant frameworks animate that literature: a critique of corporate and state power, and advocacy for energy transitions to less carbon-intensive futures. These frameworks have narrowed the ethical questions and perspectives that the discipline has considered in relation to energy. This is because they are animated by judgements that can implicitly shape research agendas or sometimes result in strong accusations that obscure how our interlocutors themselves may consider the rightness and wrongness of energy resources and the societal infrastructures of which they form a part. We propose a more capacious approach to studying energy ethics that opens up energy dilemmas to ethnographic inquiry. As such, we show how energy dilemmas constitute important sites for the generation of anthropological knowledge, encouraging more insightful and inclusive discussions of the place of energy in human and more-than-human lives.

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/14679655


 

Exploring the Anthropology of Energy: Ethnography, Energy and Ethics


Edited by Mette M. High and Jessica M. Smith

Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 30, Pages 1-116 (August 2017)

Abstract

This Special Issue explores the anthropology of energy by highlighting the unique contributions an ethnographic perspective offers to understanding energy and ethics. We propose the term energy ethics to capture the ways in which people understand and ethically evaluate energy. The term encompasses the multiple and varied ways that people experience, conceptualize, and evaluate matters of energy. Out of the diversity of fieldsites, research methods, conceptual frameworks, and disciplinary backgrounds that characterize the articles in the special issue, three clear themes emerge. The first is that multiple, conflicting understandings of energy animate how people engage it in their everyday lives and work. The second is that diversity exists in how people make ethical judgments about the role of energy in the types of ‘good societies’ they imagine for themselves. Finally, the articles underscore the significance of government interests and public policy for shaping people’s experiences of and ethical judgments about energy. These perspectives reveal the value of research that is attuned to the ways in which people view the world and the place of energy in it, opening up space to identify and reflect on our taken-for-granted assumptions.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2214629617301998