New book chapter

Energy Futures Book

A chapter entitled The charged issue of data and energy infrastructure in a Capetonian township appears in Energy Futures: Anthropocene Challenges, Emerging Technologies and Everyday Life (De Gruyter 2022). The chapter is written by DigiSAt PI Karen Waltorp who also co-edited the book alongside DigiSAt Advicsory Board critical friends Simone Abram, Sarah Pink and Nathalie Ortar. The four editors have co-authored the introduction Imagining energy futures. The book is published by De Gruyter in their Contemporary Social Sciences series. Waltorp leads a section on Imagining energy futures beyond colonial continuation co-authored by Ragnhild Freng Dale, Martín Fonck and Pierre du Plessis. The authors discuss energy futures and colonial colonial continuations drawing on their ethnographic work in the Norwegian (Sapmí) North, Kalahari, Botswana, the Chilean Andes, and Cape Flats, South Africa.

The book Energy Futures overall looks at how everyday life as we knew it is increasingly challenged in a world of climate, social, health and political crisis. Emerging technologies, data analytics and automation open up new possibilities which have implications for energy generation, storage and energy demand. To support these changes we urgently need to rethink how energy will be sourced, shared and used. Yet existing approaches to this problem, driven by engineering, data analytics and capital, are dangerously conservative and entrenched.

Energy Futures critically evaluates this context, and the energy infrastructures, stakeholders, and politics that participate in it, to propose plausible, responsible and ethical modes of encountering possible energy futures. Imagining anthropocene challenges, emerging technologies and everyday life otherwise through empirically grounded studies, opens up possible energy futures.

Energy Futures proposes and demonstrates a new critical and interventional futures-oriented energy anthropology. Combining the theories and methods of futures anthropology with the critical expertise and perspectives of energy anthropology creates a powerful mode of engagement, which this book argues is needed to disrupt the dominant narratives about our energy futures. Its contributors collectively reveal and evidence through innovative ethnographic practice how new knowledge about imagined and possible energy futures can be mobilised in engagements with emerging technologies, anthropocene challenges and everyday realities.

In doing so it brings together authors, analytical expertise and ethnographic evidence from the global south, north and places in between, generated through innovative methodologies including remote video and comic strip methods and documentary video practice as well as long term fieldwork.

  • Presents a new conceptual framework for a futures-focused energy
  • Shows how energy futures are imagined across different stakeholders
  • Reveals the different scales, spatialities & temporalities of different imaginaries of energy futures

Cite as: Abram, Simone, Waltorp, Karen, Ortar, Nathalie and Pink, Sarah (2022). Energy Futures: Anthropocene Challenges, Emerging Technologies and Everyday Life, De Gruyter.