Uneven Geographies of Electricity Capital I: Energy Justice and Electricity Development

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups:
Poster #:
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Organizers: Nikki Luke, Matt Huber
Chairs: Nikki Luke


In his 2016 book, Fossil Capital, Andreas Malm elaborates the inherent interconnection between capitalism and fossil fuel use to define fossil capital as “self-expanding value passing through the metamorphosis of fossil fuels into CO2” (p.290). Recent literature on energy transitions examine new frontiers of accumulation that might present a “socioecological fix” to the climate and economic crises of fossil capitalism (McCarthy 2015). The move to “electrify everything” as a decarbonization strategy suggests new trajectories of “electricity capitalism” (McDonald 2009). The role of finance is central in directing speculative cleantech investment (Goldstein 2018), moving transnational capital to invest in electricity infrastructure in the Global South (Power et al. 2016; Silver 2015), and as a driver of climate regulation through fossil fuel divestment or stranded asset devaluation (Knuth 2017). Critical energy geographers also examine the role of the state in opening new circuits of accumulation through state portfolio standards that establish energy efficiency as a resource (Thoyre 2015) and utility regulation that contributes to the historical-geographical production of uneven electricity pricing and racialized differences in service provision (Harrison 2013, 2016). Taking as provocation recent discussions in energy geographies, political ecology, and economic geography on value (Kenney-Lazar and Kay 2017), these paper and related panel sessions invite participants to consider the relationship between energy, capitalism, and space through the lens of electricity capital. Electricity capital might be loosely understood as the nexus of state, regulatory, and financial relationships that shape private accumulation through electricity provision. Although electricity provision is marked by immense historical and geographical diversity, this CFP seeks papers seeking to theorize it as a core fraction of capital (along with other more common categories such as industrial, commercial, or financial capital). We are particularly interested in papers that may consider the uneven racialized, gendered, classed, colonial, and national geographies of electricity.

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Harrison, C. 2016. “Race, Space, and Electric Power: Jim Crow and the 1934 North Carolina Rural Electrification Survey.” Annals of the American Association of Geographers 106 (4): 909–31.
Kenney-Lazar, M. and K. Kay. 2017. “Value in Capitalist Natures.” Capitalism Nature Socialism 28 (1): 33–38.
Knuth, S. 2017. “Green Devaluation: Disruption, Divestment, and Decommodification for a Green Economy.” Capitalism Nature Socialism 28 (1): 98–117.
Malm, A. 2016. Fossil Capital: The Rise of Steam Power and the Roots of Global Warming. London: Verso.
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Power, M., P. Newell, L. Baker, H. Bulkeley, J. Kirshner, and A. Smith. 2016. “The Political Economy of Energy Transitions in Mozambique and South Africa: The Role of the Rising Powers.” Energy Research & Social Science 17: 10–19.
Silver, J. 2015. “Disrupted Infrastructures: An Urban Political Ecology of Interrupted Electricity in Accra.” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 39 (5): 984–1003.
Thoyre, A. 2015. “Energy Efficiency as a Resource in State Portfolio Standards: Lessons for More Expansive Policies.” Energy Policy 86: 625–34.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Stephanie Pincetl*, UCLA, Political Geographies of Electricity Capital Land Development and Electrification 20 8:00 AM
Presenter Mara Van Den Bold*, Clark University, Greening energy: the politics of siting solar in Senegal 20 8:20 AM
Presenter Costanza Rampini*, San Jose State University, Climate and energy justice in Northeast India 20 8:40 AM
Presenter Stephanie Buechler*, University of Arizona - Udall Center and Geography & Development, Karina Martinez, University of Arizona, Veronica Vazquez Garcia, Colegio de Postgraduados, Montecillo, Mexico, Energy Justice Challenges and Scalar Dimensions of Renewable Energy Projects in Arizona, USA and Zacatecas, Mexico 20 9:00 AM
Presenter Gareth Bryant*, University of Sydney, Rebecca Pearse, University of Sydney, Renewable energy labour: A value-theoretic approach 20 9:20 AM

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