tisdag 13 februari 2018

Petrocultures (paper)

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A friend of mine send me a short message with a link to the upcoming conference "Petrocultures" only 10 days before the deadline for abstracts. It looked like a really interesting conference, here's part of the call for papers:

Petrocultures is motivated by the core notion that the humanities and social sciences have significant input to add to both knowledge of oil and energy and the irrevocable process of transformation. ... While much work has been done to highlight the social and cultural significance of fossil fuels, the ecological unfeasibility of high-carbon life urgently compels us to think, imagine and realize a world ‘after oil’. ... The conference will provide an important forum for examining and extending existent framings and sitings of oil and petroculture, while also striving to consider the social, cultural, and aesthetic life of alternative forms of energy, such as wind, solar, and hydro power.
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Petrocultures 2018 will bring together scholars, policy-makers, industry employees, artists, and public advocacy groups from across Europe, North America, and beyond. 
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We seek proposals for papers, workshops, and special panels that address themes related to transition and/or petrocultures more generally. ... Topics this conference will explore include, but are not limited to:

- oil / energy’s cultural imaginaries
- transition culture / cultural registrations of energy transition and decarbonisation
- histories / futures of transition
- the end(s) of oil / representing petrofutures / low-carbon imaginaries
- oil’s cultural geographies / spaces and sites of extraction, production, circulation, consumption
- imagining and representing alternative energy: the narratives/poetics/aesthetics of wind/tidal/solar/hydro/bio-/thermal/
- oil / energy and the anthropocene / capitalocene
- infrastructure
- cultural / activist interventions
- energopower / the culture, (bio)politics, and economics of oil/energy in an age of transition
material / immaterial oil – financial / environmental / embodied / psychic /affective cultures of oil / energy
- waste / plastic / lubricity
- energy and climate – history, realism, speculation, apocalypse
- theorising ‘renewable culture’ / cultural renewal
- oil / energy utopias / dystopias
- documenting / curating / archiving / modelling / philosophising / designing petroculture / transition
- creative resources – producing energy art / theatre / literature / film
- digital resources
- the energy commons / energy and environmental law / justice
- oil / energy and world-ecology
- representing mobility
- oil / energy and the state / industry
- oil / energy and gender / sexuality
- oil / energy and labour / work in transition / energy and social reproduction
- community responses / creative initiatives to energy transition
- UK / European / Scottish histories / registrations of petroculture

That's a long list of interesting topics. Our submission relates to several of these topics but none more than "histories / futures of transition" and "the end(s) of oil". The submission is a tightened up version of a proposal that was submitted 15 months ago (but not accepted) to conference "Energy and Society":


Title: Coalworld: Envisioning a world with half the oil


Authors: Daniel Pargman, Mikael Höök, Elina Eriksson & Josefin Wangel


Keywords: counterfactual history, energy imaginaries, scenarios, futures studies, peak oil, defamiliarization, infrastructure


Paper proposal: Energy infrastructure decision taken today are dependent on (sometimes bad, sometimes lousy) decisions taken decades ago that will have (partially unforeseen) implications for decades ahead. The weight of past decisions restricts our choices today and limit our imagination of possible solutions - including solutions in “paths not taken” that might be or relevance here-and-now.


In an attempt to widen the boundaries of the probable, the plausible, the possible and the preferable (Amara 1981, Bell & Olick 1989, Bell 2003), to defamiliarize and distance ourselves from the taken-for-granted (Shklovsky 1917, Bell et. al. 2005) and to shatter the shackles that limit our imagination (Tanenbaum et. al. 2016), the Coalworld project (Pargman et al 2017) explores future energy transitions by placing them in the past. The starting point of the Coalworld project is the simple counterfactual (Ferguson 2000, Todorova 2015) statement “what if there had only been half the oil in the ground back in 1859?” What if there ever only existed 1 instead of 2 trillion barrels of oil in the ground (Deffeyes 2006, Campbell 2013)? This initial geological change sets a deviation-amplifying spiral (Maruyama 1963, Sproull & Kiesler 1992) into motion and construes a world where peak oil happened several decades ago. We are currently exploring the consequences of that scenario in a series of articles about Coalworld. The first article was published in 2017 and the second is just about to be submitted to an academic journal.


Pargman, D., Eriksson, E., Höök, M., Tanenbaum, J., Pufal, M., & Wangel, J. (2017). What if there had only been half the oil? Rewriting history to envision the consequences of peak oil. Energy Research & Social Science (special issue on “narratives and storytelling in energy and climate change research”), 31, 170-178.
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