New publication: "Energy and Ethics?"

30 April 2019

By Mette M High and Jessica M Smith

This special issue of the JRAI presents a much-needed rethinking of how to understand the vital and vexing questions posed by our production, distribution, and use of energy.

In what ways does energy contribute to or imperil the kinds of lives and societies that we desire for ourselves and our others? How does our relationship with energy relate to what we consider to be right or good?

Anthropologists have studied energy encounters for many decades. However, the frameworks that have become most dominant in the discipline have narrowed the ways in which scholars seek to understand these energy dilemmas. This volume proposes a more nuanced, inclusive, and capacious approach to energy ethics that will help us grapple with some of the most pressing issues of our time.

The contributors demonstrate how ethics emerge through people’s everyday thoughts and practices, whether they work in renewables, nuclear, or fossil fuels; whether they work in industry, policy, or advocacy; whether they produce, distribute, or consume energy. It shows how to create an analytical space in which we can attend to people’s own experiences and evaluations without uncritically imposing judgements of how we would like the world to be.

By attending to the broader political and economic contexts in which these everyday energy encounters take place, this volume draws attention to the plurality and complexity that characterises the multiple and overlapping ‘ethical worlds’ in which we, our interlocutors, and other beings participate.