2018 Call for Papers

The EESG is very excited to be sponsoring proposed sessions for the AAG 2018 meeting in New Orleans, LA, April 10-14. Please see below the calls for papers:

The Urban Material Politics of Decarbonization

Call for Papers, 2018 AAG Annual Meeting

Laura Tozer, University of Toronto
Sarah Knuth, Durham University
Anthony Levenda, University of Calgary
John Stehlin, University of California, Berkeley

This session explores today's multi-sited movement to frame urban built environments as a central point of intervention for both climate change mitigation and resilience. Today's interventions build on a long history of urban climate change activism and politics that geographers have long been at the forefront of efforts to empirically investigate and theorize (e.g., Bulkeley & Betsill (2005), Rice (2010)). However, the bulk of urban geography continues to neglect the importance of urban materiality in climate activism, even as new calculations of decarbonization (often profit-driven) and climate risk transform core areas of scholarly exploration and engaged praxis. These areas include: urban real estate development and redevelopment, financing, growth machine politics, displacements and injustices. Similarly, critical geographic explorations of climate policy have often been preoccupied with carbon markets, offset politics and policy representations to the exclusion of the embedded materialities of actual decarbonization. As decarbonization unfolds, it becomes necessary to consider the material politics of low carbon transformations, in which retrofitting urban built environments have becoming increasingly central.

This session aims to help fill this gap, building on calls by Bulkeley, Castan Broto & Edwards (2014) to address the material politics of low-carbon transitions, and by Biehler and Simon (2011), Knuth (2016) and Wachsmuth, Cohen, and Angelo (2016) in critiquing urban political ecology's persistent neglect of buildings and the political economy of real estate. Particularly, the session aims to place work on retrofitting for climate change mitigation and resilience more firmly in conversation with critical accounts of "green" urban (re)development (i.e. Greenberg (2015), Cohen (2017), and others) and to consider the material politics of these transformations (Rutherford 2014, Bulkeley, McGuirk and Dowling 2016). Following this work, we aim to support necessary ongoing discussion of green gentrification/displacement as an outcome of urban property transformations for climate change, but also to consider the other multi-scalar political work that building and real estate-led climate interventions may be doing in the political configuration of cities, in national struggles over energy transitions, in transnational accumulation strategies, in transformations of the real estate development industry, in varieties of urban competition, and beyond.

Interested participants should send abstracts to laura.tozer@mail.utoronto.ca by September 29th. Participants will be notified of acceptance by October 10th.

Biehler, D.D., & Simon, G. L. (2010). The Great Indoors: Research frontiers on indoor environments as active political-ecological spaces. Progress in Human Geography, 35(2), 172–192; Bulkeley, H., & Betsill, M. M. (2005). Rethinking sustainable cities: multilevel governance and the “urban” politics of climate change. Environmental Politics, 14(1), 42–63; Bulkeley, H., Castan Broto, V., & Edwards, G. A. S. (2015). An urban politics of climate change: experimentation and the governing of socio-technical transitions. New York: Routledge; Bulkeley, H., McGuirk, P. M., & Dowling, R. (2016). Making a smart city for the smart grid? The urban material politics of actualising smart electricity networks. Environment and Planning A, 48(9), 1709–1726; Cohen, D.A. (2017). Other Low-Carbon Protagonists: Poor People's Movements and Climate Politics in Sao Paulo. In M. Greenberg & P. Lewis (Eds.), City is the Factory: New Solidarities and Spatial Strategies in an Urban Age. Ithaca: Cornell University Press; Greenberg, M. (2015). “The Sustainability Edge”: Competition, Crisis, and the Rise of Green Urban Branding. In C. Isenhour, G. McDonogh, & M. Checker (Eds.), Sustainability in the Global City: Myth and Practice (New Directions in Sustainability and Society). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Knuth, S. (2016). Seeing Green in San Francisco: City as Resource Frontier. Antipode 48.3: 626-644; Rice, J. (2010). Climate, Carbon, and Territory: Greenhouse Gas Mitigation in Seattle, Washington. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 100(4), 929-937; Rutherford, J. (2014). The Vicissitudes of Energy and Climate Policy in Stockholm: Politics, Materiality and Transition. Urban Studies, 51(7), 1449–1470; Wachsmuth, D., Cohen, D. A., & Angelo, H. (2016). Expand the frontiers of urban sustainability. Nature, 536(7617). 

Dwelling on Energy: Exploring social and cultural influences on domestic energy use in international contexts

Dr. Gary Goggins, National University of Ireland, Galway

Dr. Frances Fahy, National University of Ireland, Galway


Reducing residential energy use and related CO2 emissions is a key policy focus across many developed countries. Yet, despite ongoing efforts, prevailing market-based and technological focused approaches have had limited success in bringing about long-term reductions in domestic energy use. Without adequate consideration for the social, cultural and contextual influences on residential energy use, it is highly unlikely that dominant efficiency-driven approaches will deliver the necessary reductions in energy demand. Social-scientific approaches will need to play a key role if sustainable energy transitions at the household level are to be successful. Social practice theory, for example, has been increasingly utilized by geographers to demonstrate that household energy use varies among different socio-demographic groups, and across cultures and contexts. But, despite gaining traction in some academic circles, complex social-scientific approaches have had limited impact on non-academic stakeholders and public policy, not least because of the difficulty in translating findings into concrete policy recommendations.

This session will advance social-scientific debate through theoretical development and empirical investigation related to the social and cultural influences on household energy use. We are particularly interested in papers that deal with cross-cultural variations in household energy use. Papers may include, but are not limited to, topics such as:

  • Comparing and contrasting energy use across cultural contexts
  • The role of government and intermediary actors in influencing routine energy use
  • Innovative energy reduction initiatives at the household or community level (including Living Lab approaches)
  • International case studies which reflect the drivers of individual and collective energy choices and energy-related practices
  • Socio-technical innovations and cultural influences

Ultimately, this session aims to bring together papers that offer international insights that explore the significance of socio-cultural perspectives and practices involved with transitions to a low-carbon society and future. We welcome theoretical and empirical contributions from a broad geographical spread.

Submission procedure:

If you are interested in joining this paper session, please submit a 250-word abstract to Dr Gary Goggins (gary.goggins@nuigalway.ie by October 16th. Please feel free to contact Frances Fahy (frances.fahy@nuigalway.ie) or Gary Goggins (gary.goggins@nuigalway.ie) about potential paper topics or with other questions concerning this call. We will respond to you before October 20th.  Please note that participants are also expected to register and submit their abstracts through the AAG website themselves by October 25th at latest. 

Environmental and Energy Infrastructure at the Local Level


Jordan Howell, Rowan University

David Baylis, Delta State University


This session builds on recent work in geography and related fields like anthropology, science & technology studies, environmental history, and policy studies to examine emerging trends in the study of environmental and energy infrastructure at the local and regional level. It is easy for researchers, media, and the public alike to get caught up in federal and even international-level media and analysis, but the reality is that infrastructure projects – while sometimes having far-flung financial and resource linkages – unfold at the local level. As such, municipal rules, local government policies and processes, and local stakeholders' support or opposition can profoundly shape the development and outcome of a given project. The papers in this session will aim to illuminate the links between scales shaping a particular project while also contributing to broader discussions about the roles of local government, economics, culture, and attitudes towards expertise and the environment in facilitating or limiting the deployment of environmental and energy infrastructures.

We are looking for 2-3 additional papers to complete our session. Please send proposals to Jordan P. Howell (howellj@rowan.edu) and David Baylis (dbaylis@deltastate.edu) by October 20th, 2017.

Imagining Eurasian Climate Change

 Nino Antadze, Bucknell University

Jeremy Tasch, Towson University

From the broadly physical to the equally extensive political, social, and cultural, climate change is again catalyzing "transition" across the broad expanse of Eurasia. Transitions triggered by climate change are relevant to all nations and territories, whether engaged in fossil fuel extraction or dependent on fossil fuel use. Physical scientists, for example, are studying Eurasia's steppe and mountainous regions through focus on the effect that climate change is having on glacial melt and changing vegetation patterns. In complement to physical transitions, vast regions' increasingly accessible resources - which includes but extends beyond natural to incorporate transit, military base locations, and trade-have been transforming, expanding, and accelerating competing commercial, national security and environmental interests, with complementary questions concerning governance and development.

How climate change is affecting Eurasian spaces is discussed, declared, and performed in multiple ways, depending on the fluctuating influence of stakeholder interests, geopolitical attention, and the regions' changing physical landscapes. In turn, how "we" (insiders/outsiders and those in-between) conceive of climate change in these multifaceted regions has enormous impacts on international relations and legal and policy approaches to sovereignty, self-determination, risk and environmental change. Contestations among climate change's representations is clearly of great importance to both local and regional actors, and to the global community, and has uneven implications for Eurasian political, social, cultural, and economic systems.

We welcome submissions from the diversity of theoretical, empirical and performative research that reveals how and to what end are climate change "imaginaries"- beliefs, institutions, policies, and symbols-created, sustained, and reproduced in Eurasia through domestic and international political and civil discourses, environmental justice, art, literature, social media, and so forth.

Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words, title, author, and key words to Nino Antadze, na011@bucknell.edu and Jeremy Tasch JTasch@towson.edu, by October 22nd. Please note that authors of submitted abstracts will need to register for New Orleans by the October 25th deadline.


The Commodification of Nature in Latin America: Where are we going?


Beatriz Bustos, Universidad de Chile

Elvin Delgado, Central Washington University


Sponsors: Energy and Environment Specialty Group; Latin America Specialty Group; and Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group.


Session Description: 

Over the last decades, many Latin American countries have experienced a considerable shift of power and political ideologies from conservative neoliberal economic policies to a more center-left political strategy. Indeed, in the early 2000s Latin America's turn to the left led many scholars (Perreault & Valdivia, 2010; Radcliffe, 2012; Valdivia, 2008) to reflect about the broader political transformations in countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela that were proposing shifts in development thinking and new political ideas about nature and resource distribution such as the Sumak Kawsay or the Socialism of the 21st Century. Yet, almost twenty years later, other scholars have argued that the region is in actuality experiencing an intensification of the extractivist economy (Gudynas, 2011; Gudynas, 2012; Yates & Bakker, 2014). This new extractivism has been the source of contention for many communities, environmental groups, and local governments due to increasing concern over the impacts of faster modes of capitalist extraction in the region – a process full of inherent contradictions. These contradictions can be seen in places like Chile, a clear neoliberal country, which despite pursuing clean renewable energy projects has not been able to reduce social conflict associated with energy projects. Another example can be seen in Argentina's decision to exploit unconventional energy deposits such as the Vaca Muerta shale formation using hydraulic fracturing technologies as a strategy to reach energy independence in the country (Ferrante & Giuliani, 2014) These and other examples in the region raise questions about the path that Latin America is following in terms of commodity production and ecological conservation. Drawing on these insights, we seek papers that advance empirical, conceptual, and theoretical understandings of the current social, environmental, and political economic moment in the region. Among questions to consider are: what is the actual role of nature in the economic and political strategies of Latin American countries? Can we find examples of actual ecological impacts from the post-neoliberal turn in the region? Is the commodification of nature a path of no return?


Possible paper topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The role of the state in shaping and legitimizing the new extractivism
  • The institutional arrangements in facilitating or challenging the commodification of nature
  • The socio-ecological contradictions embedded in the commodification of nature
  • The way in which the materiality of nature resources shape their commodification
  • The legal framework under which nature is incorporated into the production process
  • The strategies used by different countries to support new modes of extraction in order to move forward their political agendas
  • The responses and strategies pursued by communities affected by nature commodification in light of the post-neoliberal turn.
  • The political alliances or oppositions derived from the commodification of nature.
  • In what ways the emergence of the "green economy" has pushed new frontiers of nature commodification in the region.
  • Connections and effects of global discourses on climate change on nature commodification in Latin America.


Please email abstracts of 250 words or less by Friday, October 20th to Beatriz Bustos (bibustos@uchilefau.cl)and Elvin Delgado (Elvin.Delgado@cwu.edu) .



Bebbington, A. and J. Bury. (2014).  Subterranean Struggles: New Dynamics of mining, oil and gas in Latin America. The University of Texas Press. Austin Texas; Ferrante, S. and A. Giuliani. (2014). Hidrocarburos no convencionales en Vaca Muerta (Neuquén): ¿Recursos estratégicos para el autoabastecimiento energético en la Argentina del siglo XXI? Revista Estado y Políticas Públicas, N°3: 33-61; Gudynas, E. (2011). Alcances y contenidos de las transiciones al post-extractivismo. Ecuador Debate(82), 61-79; Gudynas, E. (2012). Estado compensador y nuevos extractivismos. Las ambivalencias del progresismo sudamericano. revista Nueva Sociedad, 237(ISSN: 0251-3552); Perreault, T., & Valdivia, G. (2010). Hydrocarbons, popular protest and national imaginaries: Ecuador and Bolivia in comparative context. Geoforum, 41(5), 689-699. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2010.04.004; Radcliffe, S. A. (2012). Development for a postneoliberal era? Sumak kawsay, living well and the limits to decolonisation in Ecuador. Geoforum, 43(2), 240-249. doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2011.09.003; Valdivia, G. (2008). Governing relations between people and things: Citizenship, territory, and the political economy of petroleum in Ecuador. Political Geography, 27(4), 456-477; Yates, J. S., & Bakker, K. (2014). Debating the 'post-neoliberal turn' in Latin America. Progress in Human Geography, 38(1), 62-90. doi:10.1177/0309132513500372.


Energy Ethnographies: Foregrounding the social, cultural, and political aspects of ‘energy access’ and ‘energy transitions’ in the Global South


Session organizers: Jonathan Balls, University of Melbourne and Deepti Chatti, Yale University


Discussant: Gregory Simon, University of Colorado, Denver and Jenn Baka, Penn State.


This session calls for papers that draw on ethnographic and other qualitative engagements with energy users in the Global South - centering their experiences, values, politics, preferences, and epistemologies. By examining the everyday entanglements of culture, politics, environment, and society in energy use, this session aims to explore how the insights from critical qualitative social sciences can enrich our current understanding of energy access and energy transitions in developing countries.


In the context of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sustainable Energy For All (SE4All) initiative, scholars and practitioners alike have turned their focus to ‘energy access’ and ‘energy transitions’. The extension of energy services such as electricity and ‘clean’ cooking energy to low income households in the Global South is broadly described under the rubric of ‘expanding energy access’, while the substitution of currently used technologies in favour of ‘modern’ renewable energy services is broadly described under the umbrella of ‘energy transitions’. Both these terms have attracted theoretical attention by critical geographers and allied scholars. In recent years, researchers have focused extensively on decentralized energy infrastructures and programs - such as for off-grid solar power, or improved cookstoves - highlighting their promise for extending energy access, and their role in energy transitions (Bailis et al., 2009, Cross 2013, Simon et al., 2014). Additionally, researchers have looked at centralized infrastructure to reach energy users who were previously unserved (Dabadge et al., 2016). Much of the existing literature is concerned with the technical, financial, and economic aspects of efforts to extend energy access or to facilitate the diffusion of energy technologies. When attention is paid to energy users, it is typically through survey based empirical studies, focusing on technological or economical aspects.   


In parallel, there is a growing recognition by socio-cultural anthropologists of the importance of understanding the cultures and politics of infrastructure (Larkin 2013, Kale 2014, Anand 2017). Energy infrastructures are worthy of social, cultural, and political study in addition to being objects of enquiry from a technological and economic lens. Infrastructures entail newly negotiated relationships between state actors, businesses, civil society actors, and energy users (Button, 2017; Meehan, 2014). With new energy infrastructures comes new knowledge, practices, and cultures (Strauss et al., 2016, Gupta, 2015, Kumar, 2015). New technologies can reinforce existing socio-political hierarchies, or upset them (Jacobson, 2007). Ethnographic studies that focus on users and the seemingly ordinary or mundane everyday uses of energy can bring rich empirical insights on how energy access and transitions are unfolding (Chatti et al., 2017). This scholarship can improve our understanding on how energy technologies, infrastructures, and programs are mediated, shaped, and accommodated, while simultaneously paying close attention to how lives are changed to accommodate new forms of infrastructures.

This session invites participants to present research conducted with energy users in the developing world to explore the social, cultural, and political dimensions of ‘energy access’ and ‘energy transitions’. While we hope to center ethnographic and deep qualitative research, we welcome a broad range of scholarly engagements that foreground the social, cultural, and political aspects of energy use.


Potential paper themes could include, but are not limited to:

  • How is the use of energy mediated by cultures, politics, and practices, and how does this relate with our current understanding of ‘energy access’, and ‘energy transitions’?

  • What insights are gained from ethnographic studies that center the experiences and practices of users?

  • How are accounts that detail the politics and governance of decentralised energy infrastructures, and emergent relationships between government actors, businesses, civil society, and users enriching understandings of energy transitions in the developing world?

  • How are contestations over technical and economic aspects of energy infrastructure negotiated? How does this affect the end user?


    Please email paper titles and 250 word abstracts to Jonathan Balls

    (jonathan.balls@unimelb.edu.au) and Deepti Chatti (deepti.chatti@yale.edu) by October 15, 2017. Potential panelists will need to register for the AAG by October 25, 2017, and submit their abstracts directly.




    Anand, Nikhil. 2017. Hydraulic City: Water and the Infrastructures of Citizenship in Mumbai. Duke University Press; Bailis, Rob, et al. 2009. "Arresting the killer in the kitchen: the promises and pitfalls of commercializing improved cookstoves." World Development 37 10: 1694-1705; Button, C. 2017. The co-production of a constant water supply in Mumbai’s middle-class apartments. Urban Research & Practice, 10, 102-119; Chatti, D., Archer, M., Lennon, M. & Dove, M. R. 2017. Exploring the mundane: Towards an ethnographic approach to bioenergy. Energy Research & Social Science, 30, 28-34; Cross, Jamie. 2013. "The 100th object: Solar lighting technology and humanitarian goods." Journal of Material Culture 18 4: 367-387; Dabadge, Ashwini, et al., “From LPG Connections to Use: Realising Smokeless Kitchens for All” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol L1 No. 16, April 16, 2016; Gupta, Akhil. 2015. ‘An Anthropology of Electricity from the Global South’. Cultural Anthropology, 30, 555-568; Kale, Sunila S. 2014. Electrifying India: regional political economies of development. Stanford University Press; Kumar, Ankit. 2015. ‘Cultures of lights’. Geoforum, 65, 59-68; Jacobson, A. 2007. Connective power: Solar electrification and social change in Kenya. World Development, 35, 144-162; Larkin, Brian. 2013. "The politics and poetics of infrastructure." Annual Review of Anthropology 42: 327-343; Matinga, Margaret Nijrambo. 2010. "We grow up with it": an ethnographic study of the experiences, perceptions and responses to the health impacts of energy acquisition and use in rural South Africa. University of Twente; Meehan, K. M. 2014. ‘Tool-power: Water infrastructure as wellsprings of state power’. Geoforum, 57, 215-224; Simon, Gregory L., et al. 2014. "Current debates and future research needs in the clean cookstove sector." Energy for Sustainable Development 20: 49-57; Strauss, Sarah, Stephanie Rupp, and Thomas Love, eds. 2016. Cultures of energy: power, practices, technologies. Routledge.

Innovation, Sustainability, and Policy: How Resource Based Communities Respond to Improve Their Long-Term Resiliency

Leith Deacon, University of Alberta


Resource based communities, also referred to as single industry towns, boom/bust towns, and/or resource dependent regions, have experienced significant change due to social, political, and economic variation over the last several decades. Research highlights how these regions have responded to change often with a range of legislative responses in an attempt to improve their long-term resiliency (Deacon et al. 2016; Van Assche et al 2016, 2017).

The purpose of this session is to bring together researchers who are interested in resource based communities to highlight relevant exploration in the area. There are three objectives of this session: 1) To highlight the types and variation in responses to the challenges resource based communities face; 2) To provide an international comparison of responses; 3) To begin a dialogue on best practices for resource communities who continue to experience hardship and difficulty in maintaining their importance and resiliency. 

If you are interested in participating in this session, please send a draft of your abstract to deacon1@ualberta.ca on or before November 1st, 2017. If you have any questions, please contact the session organizer: Leith Deacon, University of Alberta; E-mail: deacon1@ualberta.ca

Integrative modeling for coupled natural-human systems: functional models of human decision-making and environmental response feedback loops.

Gabriel Granco, Stroud Water Research Center


The Anthropogenic era highlights the need for understanding feedback loops in coupled nature and human (CNH) systems. However, the theoretical and empirical examination of CNH imposes the challenge of integrating diverse modeling traditions from the natural and social sciences. Without functioning integrated models, policy makers and scientists cannot simulate regulatory, incentive, management and educational options to identify viable pathways to sustainability. The goal of this session is to stimulate the advancement of this field through the discussion of functioning integrative modeling approaches used for CNH systems. We invite contributions on the topics of:


· Case studies showing model integration in CNH systems

· Procedures to overcome the data integration issue

· Demonstration of innovative decisions and updates rules for agents (i.e. agents decisions based on cultural values theory)

· Modeling Human decision-making and environmental response feedback loops

· Discussion of implementation of Agent-based models, cellular automata models, and other techniques


Abstract online submission is due Oct. 25, on the AAG website (http://annualmeeting.aag.org/). After submitting your abstract, please email (i) your name, presentation title, and abstract, (ii) the Participant Number (PIN number) associated with your abstract, to Dr. Gabriel Granco (ggranco@stroudcenter.org, Stroud Water Research Center), before Nov. 06. For more information, please contact ggranco@stroudcenter.org.

Paper Session: Sustainability in Challenging Environments: Building International Connections


Organizer: Luis Suter, The George Washington University

Discussant: Jessica Graybill, Colgate University


All over the world - from the Arctic, to deserts, to isolated islands – humans live in environments considered severe or challenging to sustainability. In the Arctic, these challenges include extreme temperatures, inaccessibility, as well as the impacts of climate-change. These challenges are not unique to the Arctic region; for example, small island nations also face challenges related to their environment, remoteness, and changing climate. While some specifics of sustainable development within these regions are unique, there are also some aspects of sustainable development that are analogous between the regions. Successes and failures in designing, promoting, and carrying out sustainability policy should be shared between these actors, to promote global sustainability capacity.

This paper session responds to calls for regional specialty groups to engage with groups outside their specialty. Papers may engage in discussions of strategies for or lessons from sustainable development efforts within communities that live in challenging environmental, societal, economic, or political conditions. Specific consideration should be given to how these lessons could be valuable for other regions. Depending on respondent interest, these topics can be broken into multiple sessions.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

·         Addressing Climate Change Impacts

·         Urban Sustainability

·         Sustainability Policy Promotion

·         Building International Partnerships for Sustainability

·         New Technologies for Climate-Adaption

·         Sustainable Agriculture

·         Traditional and Alternative Energy Resources

·         Interregional Comparison Studies

·         Resilience and Adaptive Capacity

Interested applicants should send abstracts of no more than 250 words Luis Suter (lsuter@gwu.edu) by October 20th. Accepted applicants will be notified by October 25th.

Groups Co-Sponsoring the Session: Polar Specialty Group, Human Dimensions of Global Change


Alternative Fuels and Autonomous Vehicles: Transportation Transitions and the Impact on Cities, Regions, and Sustainability 

Scott Kelley, University of Nevada - Reno

Bradley Lane, University of Kansas


In early 2016, transportation became the primary source of domestic CO2 emissions across all U.S. economic sectors, due to steady increases in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) by commercial and personal vehicles  operating almost entirely on liquid petroleum fuels, making it a priority research area.  The development of connected and automated vehicle (CAV) technology and continued innovations in alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) offer potentially dramatic changes for the future of transportation, as cities and regions continue to address a host of long-term environmental, social, and economic issues inherent in the present-day transportation sector. Of long-term importance as these technologies mature is a need to understand the likely feedbacks that will impact the form of cities and regions, their impact on the sustainability of transportation, and the arrangement of residences and employment.  Geographers are uniquely situated to how people currently use and consider these emerging transportation technologies, and the implications of future and more widespread adoption.

This session welcomes all geographers that are considering the role of connected and automated vehicles and/or alternative fuel vehicles in the transportation sector. A sample of topics that could contribute to this includes (but is not limited to):


·       Charging/driving/purchasing/refueling behavior

·       Confluence of AFVs and CAVs

·       Diffusion of technologies and vehicles

·       Education, knowledge, and perception

·       Environmental impacts, benefits, well-to-wheel analyses

·       Equity impacts, issues, and vulnerability analyses

·       Facility location and network design

·       Impacts on electricity grid

·       Impacts on land-use and development

·       Interaction with public transportation

·       Inter-urban and intra-urban comparisons

·       Policies and incentives

·       Smart cities and connected mobility

·       Social and cultural implications

·       Technology choice and tradeoffs

·       Time-space and activity-travel based analyses

·       Transition trajectories and economics

We welcome submissions from geographers addressing this priority research area using a variety of methods. If there is enough response, we would be delighted to host multiple sessions.

If interested in participating in these sessions, please submit a title and abstract of 250 words or fewer to Scott Kelley (scottkelley@unr.edu) and Bradley Lane (bwlane@ku.edu) by Monday, October 23rd, 2017. All participants will need register online at the AAG website by the AAG deadline of Wednesday, October 25th, 2017.

Renewing accumulation: Strategies and geographies of energy transition

Ingrid Behrsin, UC Davis

Conor Harrison, University of South Carolina

Sarah Kelly-Richards, University of Arizona

Sarah Knuth, Durham University

James McCarthy, Clark University

Recent work in economic geography and political ecology has analyzed energy transitions as fundamentally geographical processes, ones with the power to transform the capitalist space economy in myriad ways (Bridge et al. 2013). Critical energy geographers have begun to explore how the rapid uptake of solar, wind, hydropower, and other renewable and ‘clean’ energy technologies in recent years is introducing new competition for land and resources and raising a host of environmental and social concerns across a variety of spaces, from rural lands and Indigenous territories to dense urban areas (Bridge et al., 2013; Calvert, 2015; Kelly-Richards et al., 2017; McCarthy, 2015; Huber and McCarthy, 2017). Energy geographers are likewise investigating energy efficiency as another accumulation frontier within today’s energy transition, as established conservation programs intersect with new schemes for making energy efficiency a valuable ‘resource’ within urban real estate markets (Knuth 2016), regional energy portfolios (Thoyre 2015), and smart metering initiatives (Levenda et al. 2015). Energy geographers studying the new accumulation sites and strategies above are increasingly attempting to situate them within broader trajectories of capitalist environmental-economic crisis and resolution, as energy transitions take center stage within the green economy’s imaginary of technological ‘disruption’ and renewal (Knuth 2017) and its promise of socioecological fixes to crisis tendencies (McCarthy 2015).

Electric utilities are key actors in these dynamics, sometimes embracing and sometimes resisting transitions to renewable energy sources. The industry is undergoing a period of tremendous technological change and turmoil across many national and regional contexts. In the face of the falling price of renewable energy, energy efficiency initiatives, and a variety of ‘smart’ technologies, tech firms, energy entrepreneurs and investors, and some policy makers view the industry as ripe for disruption and are deploying new accumulation strategies. With new accumulation strategies come new actors, dynamics, and uncertainties in renewable energy development, as market-based de- and reregulation continues to transform established electric utility regimes and large-scale electric grids. At the same time, these would-be ‘disruptors’ confront obdurate socio-technical systems and entrenched political interests. Many incumbent utilities are attempting to use their amassed political economic strength to withstand changes to accumulation strategies that have changed little since the early 20th century, and are thus investing heavily in centralized natural gas and nuclear generation while undermining distributed energy initiatives at every turn. Meanwhile, the expansion of electric grids is becoming a point of conflict in energy transitions in many developing contexts, as managers struggle to grow centralized transmission and distribution grids capable of handling variable renewable energy generation sources, while new competitors market distributed infrastructural and accumulation alternatives.

In the two paper sessions and associated panel session described below, we seek to explore the ways in which these transformations are unfolding, and being contested, across diverse-but-interconnected geographical and sectoral contexts, ones that present multiple sites for critical analysis and intervention. Our intent is to assemble one paper session focused on the political ecology of renewable energy projects and transitions broadly understood; a second paper session focused on the electric utility industry in the context of those transitions; and a panel session that will integrate the themes of both. We invite papers that build on recent work in economic geography/geographical political economy and political ecology in order to examine the strategies present in the renewable energy and electricity industries to ‘renew’ accumulation, and correspondingly, how these strategies articulate and conflict with existing land uses , territorial logics, and utility industry structures.

Potential topics of interest may include:

·       The politics of renewable and ‘clean’ energy planning and deployments:  e.g., what are the techniques and justifications used to plan and legitimate such projects?

·       Displacements and dispossessions associated with planned or enacted renewable energy projects.

·       Flows of investments into the renewable energy sector and specific territories and/or projects.

·       The increasing role of tech firms in the electricity industry.

·       Competing tech paradigms, accumulation strategies, and visions for long-term accumulation.

·       Regulation, deregulation, re-regulation, and the changing structure of utility industries regionally, nationally, and transnationally.

·       Increases in renewable energy generation and land use implications.

·       Utility strategies to resist distributed energy projects in the Global North and South.

·       Material and technological politics (e.g., interactions between renewable energy growth and grid innovations, new proposals for energy efficiency and storage).

·       Conflicts and environmental governance implications of the transition to renewable energy.

·       Contradictions in the private-sector-led development of renewable energy.

Please email abstracts of 250 words or less to Sarah Kelly-Richards (shkelly@email.arizona.edu) or Conor Harrison (cmharris@mailbox.sc.edu) by Wednesday, October 25.

Locating socially-just energy transitions

Nikki Luke, University of Georgia

Carlo Sica, Syracuse University

Sponsored by the Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, the Energy and Environment Specialty Group, and the Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group

In June 2017, President Trump withdrew from the Paris climate accords, citing the need to cut "job-killing regulations" that impair the coal industry (Battistoni 2017; White House 2017). In our view, Trump's political rhetoric pits economic well-being against action on climate change and belies the hard work of activists, unions, utilities, energy companies, and progressive politicians to forge a socially just transition to cleaner energy. Geographers have a role to play in these discussions. Recent years have witnessed a turn in geographic research toward the intersection of renewable energy systems and social justice (Healy and Barry 2017), politics of energy demand (Shove and Walker 2014), energy poverty (Baker et al. 2014; Hilbert and Werner, 2016), and energy system transformation (Juisto 2009). Energy geography (Calvert 2016; Huber 2015) and research on energy transitions (Bridge et al. 2013; Lawhon and Murphy 2012; Newell and Mulvaney, 2013; Shove and Walker 2007) gesture to the political decisions that initiate energy system change and begin to grapple with the class-based, racialized, and gendered dynamics that intersect with transitional politics.

The goal of this session is to generate a dialogue on energy transitions from a distinct set of places and methodological and theoretical perspectives. We seek to push the boundaries of energy geographies toward questions about who or what will bear the costs of slowing climate change along intersecting lines of class, gender, race, nation, and species.

We invite scholarship on the topic of locating socially-just energy transitions, which may focus on, but are not limited to the following themes:

  • role of the state, civil society, and social movements
  • resistance from fossil capital
  • green collar jobs, labor organizing, and the future of work in a clean-energy economy
  • energy poverty, energy affordability, and its subjectivities
  • historical and counterfactual perspectives on energy transition(s)

Please send abstracts of ≤ 250 words to Nikki Luke, knluke@uga.edu, and Carlo Sica, cesica@syr.edu, by Friday, Oct. 20 to express interest.

Works cited:

Baker, Lucy, Peter Newell and Jon Phillips 2014 "The political economy of energy transitions: the case of South Africa" New political economy 19 (6) pp.791-818;Battistoni, A. 2017. Living, Not Just Surviving. Jacobin 26, 68–74; Bridge, Gavin, Bouzarovski, Stefan, Bradshaw, Michael, and Eyre, Nick 2013 "Geographies of energy transition: Space, place and the low-carbon economy" Energy policy 53 pp.331–340; Calvert, Kirby 2016 "From "energy geography" to "energy geographies": perspectives on a fertile academic borderland" Progress in Human Geography 40 (1) pp.105–125; Fry, Matthew 2013 "Cement, carbon dioxide, and the 'necessity' narrative: a case study of Mexico" Geoforum 49 pp.127-138; Healy, Noel and John Barry 2017 "Politicizing energy justice and energy system transitions: fossil fuel divestment and a 'just transition'" Energy Policy 108 pp.451-459; Hilbert, Anthony and Werner, Marion 2016 "Turn up the heat! Contesting energy poverty in Buffalo, NY" Geoforum 74 222-232; Huber, Matt 2015 "Theorizing energy geographies: theorizing energy geographies" Geography Compass 9 (6) pp.327–338; Juisto, Scott 2009 "Energy transformations and geographic research" in A companion to environmental geography Noel Castree, David Demeritt, Diana Liverman and Bruce Rhoads eds. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell pp.533-551; Lawhon, Mary and Murphy, James 2012 "Socio-technical regimes and sustainability transitions: insights from political ecology" Progress in Human Geography 36 (3) pp.354–378; Newell, Peter and Mulvaney, Dustin 2013 "The political economy of the 'just transition'" The Geographical Journal 179 (2) pp.132–140; Shove, Elizabeth, and Gordon Walker 2007 "CAUTION! Transitions ahead: politics, practice, and sustainable transition management" Environment and Planning A 39 (4) pp.763-770; Shove, Elizabeth and Gordon Walker 2014 "What is energy for? Social practice and energy demand" Theory, culture & society 31 (5) pp.41-58; The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, Statement by President Trump on the Paris Climate Accord 2017 www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/06/01/... (Accessed 9/12/17)

Recycling Energy Landscapes in a Crowded World

Dr. Stanislav Martinat, Institute of Geonics, The Czech Academy of Sciences

Prof. Martin J. Pasqualetti, Arizona State University, Tempe

Over the centuries, energy development has largely been a linear enterprise, ending in landscapes disrupted, abandoned, poisoned, and forgotten. This approach is no longer viable. The ongoing "third energy transition" (Whipple, 2011) – a transition from fossil fuels that underpinned the industrial age – to a post-industrial era characterized by increasing competition between the land used for energy development and the land needed for cities, farms, recreation, and contemplation.  In many countries, there is increasing pressure to regenerate, reclaim, and redevelop the abandoned, derelict and contaminated areas left behind. These include abandoned mines, processing equipment, waste heaps, disused oil and gas wells, and other traditional energy landscapes. The repurposing of these landscapes – and often disused buildings that rest on them – has become increasingly imperative and economically sensible in the last two decades as competition for land has increased and as emerging policies and economic instruments have grown to support the regeneration processes (e.g., the Re-powering America´s land Initiative, EPA, 2013).  We have now reached a period when "recycling" energy landscapes is occurring with increasing frequency. Examples of this new stage in land use include converting opencast mines to recreational lakes, power plant buildings into museums, sites of mountain-top removal into golf courses, ash disposal piles into the solar farms, canals paths into bike paths, and a wide assortment of energy infrastructure into destinations for „energy tourism" (Frantál & Urbánková, 2017).  This session is intended to identify the need, forms, incentives, and barriers to recycling energy landscapes.

Interested participants should send abstracts to  martinat@geonika.cz by  October 30. Participants will be notified of acceptance and inclusion into the session by turn.

Socio-Economic Parameters in the Public Acceptance of Renewable Energy Landscapes 

Dr. Bohumil Frantal, Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic

Prof. Martin J. Pasqualetti, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA

One of the first articles dealing with public perceptions of emerging renewable energy landscapes was by a geographer (Pasqualetti & Butler 1987). Although subsequent research has suggested that aesthetic preferences concerning landscape impacts best predict the local acceptance of renewables (e.g., Pasqualetti 2012; Wolsink 2007), recent studies proved that the impact of visibility on acceptance is not linked just to the physical landscape context but also to socio-economic parameters of projects. Others even emphasized that not a visual impact, but perception of health risks, appraisal of community benefits, general community enhancement, and preferences for renewable-generated electricity are the key predictors of local support for renewables (Baxter et al. 2013). While an adaptation to changed landscape character turned out to be a common phenomenon, the negative perceptions concerning increasing electricity prices due to the feed-in tariffs and other subsidies, the noise annoyance from wind turbines or a smell from biogas stations, and uncertainties surrounding the long term effects and health risks of these facilities seem to persist years after construction was completed (Groth & Vogt 2014, Martinat et al. 2017). After three decades of our co-existence with renewable energy landscapes, there are still many unanswered questions regarding public perceptions and a wider diffusion and adoption of renewables, and there are other concepts besides the invalid NIMBY theory that need to be revised and/or adapted in the light of the latest developments, such as the U-curve theory, the proximity hypothesis, the spatial and distributional justice, the resource curse, et cetera. These and other issues will be discussed in this paper session.

Interested participants should send abstracts to  frantal@geonika.cz  by October 30. Participants will be notified of acceptance and inclusion into the session by turn.

Small hydroelectric power (SHP) in policy and practice

Thomas Ptak, University of Idaho, tptak@uidaho.edu
Arica Crootof, University of Arizona, acrootof@email.arizona.edu

Sponsored by the Energy and Environment Specialty Group

We invite individuals to join us in assessing the current state of small hydroelectric power (SHP) in policy and practice. As the development of large and medium sized hydroelectric infrastructure continues to face increased social, political and environmental pressure, proliferation of small hydroelectric operations rapidly increases throughout many parts of the world. While a rich body of literature examining a range of biophysical and human dimensions of large hydropower development exists, research on SHP, is limited by comparison and lacks a comprehensive multi-regional study. Assessing empirical research from a range of geographic regions is needed to critically analyze and understand the nuanced, complex and idiosyncratic nature of SHP in policy and practice.

In order to address this gap in current knowledge, we invite field-based research on SHP from all geographic locations. This session has two aims. First, to connect researchers and establish aSHP network/working group. Second, to develop the foundation of a comparative analysis of SHP in policy and practice that can be developed into a formal publication. The session format will be mildly unorthodox but progressive. Our forum will offer a space to connect SHP researchers and share empirical research. Working together, we will focus on detailing the global SHP movement to outline challenges, illustrate complexities, identify research needs, critique current trends and suggest future directions with case-specific examples. 

Please contact the session organizers if you would like to be involved in this session. Submission of a 250 word abstract is due by October 24.