Call for papers

This two-day international conference will bring together doctoral students and early-career scholars to discuss the different ways energy is and has been intertwined with economic, social, cultural and political developments and processes. The aim of the conference is to centre attention on energy as a key agent in modern and contemporary history, in contrast to its typical designation as an external subject of research exclusive to the Natural Sciences.

At a moment of global climate crisis, it is necessary to critically analyse energy systems and their entanglement in social, economic and political realities. This discussion will develop crucial understanding of the use of alternative and renewable forms of energy.

The conference also aims to address the significance of historically uneven development in determining the different ways energy is used and conceptualised around the world. As the negotiations of the 2016 Paris climate accord highlighted, plans for energy transition must also engage with calls for energy justice. Therefore, this conference will focus on cultures of energy in the Global South, drawing attention to particular connections between energy, colonialism and the post-colonial state.

We aim to address an array of different forms of energy – carbon, geo-thermal, nuclear or electrical – and various energy sources such as oil, gas, coal, wood, wind, and water. The nature of world energy not only means that comparative analysis between different national contexts will be important, but also that papers at the conference will follow the transnational and global flows of the infrastructures, knowledge and people that form part of the construction of energy systems and assemblages.

The conference advocates for multi-disciplinary, contrasting methodologies, and cross-regional submissions, in order to stimulate alternative ways of thinking about energy. Submission from all regions of the Global South such as Africa, Middle East, Latin America, and Asia are welcomed, as well as comparisons with their Northern counterparts.

Sub-themes may include:

– The uses and effects of energy in everyday life at the point of consumption, especially its relationship to habits and rhythms of daily life, questions of power, agency, and resistance, as well as categories of identity such as race, gender, class and sect.
– Knowledge, representations and cultural imaginaries of energy, including alternative meanings, ontologies and cosmologies, as well as knowledge controversies.
– The construction and reproduction of energy systems and the role of both human and non-human actors such as workers, engineers, technocrats, infrastructural technologies and raw materials.
– The relationship between energy, politics and governance at local, national and international levels.
– The place of energy in colonial and post-colonial states and its connection to the related themes of sovereignty, rights, law, development, capitalism, imperialism and the nation-state.

Participation information:
If you would like to propose a paper for our conference, please submit a completed application form here by 11 February 2019. There will be six panels, each focused on a particular theme and each consisting of speakers and discussants. We will also have a keynote address as well as a plenary session at the end. More information on the structure of the conference would be supplied to confirmed participants. Please do not hesitate to contact the session conveners if you require further information:

Please find more information on the conference here

Damilola Adebayo (Cambridge)
Mattin Biglari (SOAS)
Rihab Khalid (Cambridge)
Aditya Ramesh (SOAS)
Noura Wahby (Cambridge)

Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Cambridge

Faculty of History, University of Cambridge

Society for the History of Technology

To send us an abstract, please fill in the following form: