ASA Panel: Who Speaks for Energy? (2021)



Energy is a necessity of life. How energy is harvested from the environment, however, and the repercussions of energy consumption, are of growing public concern and a central contributor to anthropogenic climate change. 

In a global yet highly unequal energy economy, questions of responsibility and authority are crucial to understanding the entangled social and material complexities of our energy present(s) and futures. This panel explores the ethical tensions and power dynamics vested in the social worlds of energy production, consumption, distribution and disposal. We ask: How are responsibility and authority crafted, accepted and challenged by those who speak for energy? And, in turn, by the people, communities, and non-humans that are dependent on and adversely affected by human energy practices? How do non-humans figure in energy dilemmas? Can, and should they be represented in the anthropology of energy, and by whom? How do we reconcile analysis of the energy sector’s provision of global energy needs and contribution to climate change with the voices, stories, beliefs, ethical sensibilities, lives and livelihoods of people who work in the fossil fuel, nuclear and renewable energy industries? Do anthropologists have a responsibility to avoid favouring or opposing some energy sources and voices over others? How do we, as anthropologists, navigate the ethical tensions of working with conflicting voices and demands for representation in a highly contentious field?

This panel welcomes papers that reflect on the ethical challenges, tensions, and opportunities associated with ethnographically researching energy from field sites around the world.

Register for this event.


Session Programme

Thu 1st Apr, 11:15-12:45 BST (UTC+1)


Theodora Vetta (Universitat de Barcelona): Responsibility and redistribution: what is a just energy transition?

Chima Michael Anyadike-Danes (Durham University); Claire Dungey (Durham University): Who Speaks for the Mines: Morality and Mine Water in Post- ‘Coalonial’ County Durham

Sean Field (University of St Andrews): White Oil – Responsibility and the Corporeal Limits of Expertise in the US Energy Capital


Fri 2nd Apr, 14:15-15:45 BST (UTC+1)

Anna Rauter (University of St. Andrews): Energy Elites: Optimism, Fatalism, and Business in the Face of Climate Change

Noah Walker-Crawford (University of Manchester): Holding energy to account: climate change litigation in an age of global interconnection

Eileen Jahn (University of Bayreuth): Access to energy for all in South Africa and the anthropologist’s responsibility of care

Pauline Destree (University of St Andrews): Energy pedagogies: oil, development and civil responsibility in Ghana


Fri 2nd Apr, 16:30-18:00 BST (UTC+1)

Kristin Phillips (Emory University); Erin Dean (New College of Florida): When is Energy? Who is Energy? Gender, Labor, and Domesticity in Tanzania

Anna Bettini (University of Alberta): The truth lies between the…fractures: voices and stories on fracking from Aotearoa New Zealand

Anna Szolucha (Northumbria University) Divided by fracking, united in despair: making sense of the conflicting voices in the UK shale gas controversy

Mette High (University of St Andrews): Responsibility in creativity: science and energy imaginaries in the US oil and gas industry.


Friday Drinks: Zoom Link:


Apr 01 - 02 2021


11:00 am - 6:00 pm