Electrifying Anthropology : Exploring Electrical Practices and Infrastructures book cover
1st Edition

Electrifying Anthropology
Exploring Electrical Practices and Infrastructures

ISBN 9780367727086
Published March 31, 2021 by Routledge
224 Pages

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Book Description

What kinds of expertise and knowledge relate to electricity, and where is the space for alternative voices? How can the new roles for electricity in social and cultural life be acknowledged? How can we speak about ‘it’ in its own right while acknowledging that electricity is not one thing? This book re-describes electricity and its infrastructures using insights from anthropology and science and technology studies, raising fascinating questions about the contemporary world and its future. Through ethnographic studies of bulbs, bicycles, dams, power grids and much more, the contributors shed light on practices that are often overlooked, showing how electricity is enacted in multiple ways. Electrifying Anthropology moves beyond the idea of electricity as an immovable force, and instead offers a set of potential trajectories for thinking about electricity and its effects in contemporary society. With new contributions on an emerging area of research, this timely collection will be of value to students and scholars of anthropology, science and technology studies, geography and engineering.

Table of Contents

List of figuresNotes on contributorsAcknowledgements1 Current thinking – an introduction Simone Abram, Brit Ross Winthereik and Thomas Yarrow2 Electricity is not a noun Gretchen Bakke3 Widened reason and deepened optimism: Electricity and morality in Durkheim’s anthropology and our own Leo Coleman4 No current: Electricity and disconnection in rural India Jamie Cross5 What the e-bike tells us about the anthropology of energy Nathalie Ortar6 At the edge of the network of power in Japan, c. 1910s–1960s Hiroki Shin7 Can the Mekong speak? On hydropower, models and ‘thing-power’ Casper Bruun Jensen8 Electrification and the everyday spaces of state power in postcolonial Mozambique Joshua Kirshner and Marcus Power9 Big grid: Th e computing beast that preceded big data Canay Özden-Schilling10 Touring the nuclear sublime: Power-plant tours as tools of government Tristan Loloum11 Afterword: Electricity as inspiration – towards indeterminate interventions Sarah PinkIndex

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Simone Abram is Professor of Anthropology, Durham University, UK. She has an MEng in electrical engineering. Brit Ross Winthereik is Professor of Science and Technology Studies, IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Thomas Yarrow is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Durham University, UK.


"This bracing collection gathers together scholars who expertly show, across a range of cases, the all-at-once literal and figurative making of today’s global flows, currents and circuits of forms that fuse the technical and political in ever-switching and potent ways. - Stefan Helmreich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USAThis book delivers what it promises. To anthropology and associated disciplines, it constitutes a break-through in terms of theorizing electricity by refusing to accept assumptions embedded in established, dominating sciences. To policy makers, planners, civil society and members of engineering communities, it is likely to become an intriguing eye opener in terms of what electricity actually is. - Tanja Winther, University of Oslo, Norway"