2015 Calls for Papers

The EESG is very excited to be sponsoring the proposed sessions for the AAG 2015 meeting in Chicago, IL, April 21-25. Please see below the calls for papers:



Pathways to Decarbonisation: advancing new political and geographical perspectives


Convener: Andrés Luque-Ayala (Department of Geography)


This session seeks to examine, compare and contrast different approaches towards understanding the politics and geographies of pathways to decarbonisation. It focuses on the rationalities, techniques, practices, artefacts, and subjectivities that are being shaped and promoted in the configuration of low carbon sites and spaces. Whilst formal pathways to decarbonisation appear elusive, there is a growing set of dispersed initiatives experimenting with innovative ways of 'becoming low carbon'. Analysing these initiatives has revealed that decarbonisation is largely a political —rather than technical— process, which is not likely to be achieved through individual agency alone but through strategies that alter larger socio-political-economic structures and socio-technical systems. Taking pathways to decarbonisation seriously means a shift from an 'extractive' model of low carbon transitions (reducing emissions/point source pollution) to an 'embedded' model of decarbonisation as requiring systemic change. It also means an acknowledgment of decarbonisation as contingent and often unplanned, non-linear and uncertain, yet with an understanding of the need to foster supportive conditions and specific policies that facilitate imagining and implementing a low carbon future. The session examines how decarbonisation pathways are being made, both at material as well as discursive levels.



Pathways to decarbonisation (1): Problematising low carbon

This specific sub-session (1) focuses on conceptual understandings and broad frameworks towards problematizing low carbon. It seeks to analyse how the process of promoting decarbonisation results in turn in a change in the operation of power in society, in the nature of socio-political and economic systems, and has implications for issues of development and justice.


Pathways to decarbonisation (2): Translating and re-assembling low carbon

This specific sub-session (2) focuses on the processes associated to translating and re-assembling low carbon. It examines the blurred interfaces at play and the role of intermediation, focusing on the organisations and agents which, operating in particular contexts or across them (as e.g. national agencies, transnational networks), are serving as 'intermediaries' for low carbon transitions.


Pathways to decarbonisation (3): the scalar re-making of low carbon

This specific sub-session (3) focuses on the varied geographies of pathways to decarbonisation, with an emphasis on the scalar re-making of low carbon. It examines how agents and authorities operating at different scales are re-making infrastructures in more or less low carbon ways. As part of this, the sub-session looks at how low carbon is made at neighbourhood, city and regional levels.


Please contact Andrés Luque-Ayala (a.e.luque [at] durham.ac.uk).




In the Green Kitchen: Critically assessing Domestic Energy Interventions for Climate and Development

 Conveners: Jasmine Hyman, Rob Bailis - Yale School of Forestry


The IPCC’s recently released 5th Assessment Report reminds us that roughly 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and 3 billion people worldwide rely on traditional solid fuels for household cooking and heating. Deriving household energy from wood, crop waste, dung, and coal, leads to well-documented health impacts and is associated with persistent narratives of environmental damage through unsustainable harvesting and climate-forcing pollution. As a result, these spaces have been the target of interventions throughout the Global South for decades, with limited success (Simon et al., 2014). Interventions have ranged from traditional development assistance to fully market-driven models (Bailis et al. 2009). In addition, recognition that household energy in the Global South doesn’t “receive adequate incentives through conventional markets” (IPCC, 2014), has driven the emergence of market-development hybrids, including micro-lending, carbon offsets, and other types of “results-based finance”. These approaches create explicit ties between nature, markets, and intimate household spaces that raise many questions, including:


·      Who benefits from market-development hybrids linking commercial activity to welfare-enhancing interventions?

·      How do household interventions play out within the household?

·      Are household energy interventions in the Global South effective climate change mitigation strategies?

·      How do local households navigate and make relevant the global landscape of climate policy mechanisms? Under what conditions are international climate policies useful for the rural poor?

·      Are green markets functional as markets? Are they green?


We seek both quantitative and qualitative contributions that explore these and other themes.

To participate, please email abstracts of 250 words or less to Jasmine Hyman (jasmine.hyman [at] yale.edu) or Rob Bailis (robert.bailis [at] yale.edu) by November 4th.  We will notify you ASAP and ask you provide a conference PIN number to confirm your registration.




Bailis, R., A. Cowan, et al. (2009). "Arresting the Killer in the Kitchen: The Promises and Pitfalls of Commercializing Improved Cookstoves." World Development 37(10): 1694-1705.

IPCC (2014). Chapter 04: Sustainable Development and Equity. Working Group III – Mitigation of Climate Change. Eds. O. Edenhofer, R. Pichs-Madruga and Y. Sokona. Bonn, IPCC: 114.

Simon, G. L., R. Bailis, et al. (2014). "Current debates and future research needs in the clean cookstove sector." Energy for Sustainable Development 20(0): 49-57.

Simon, G. L., A. G. Bumpus, et al. (2012). "Win-win scenarios at the climate–development interface: Challenges and opportunities for stove replacement programs through carbon finance." Global Environmental Change 22(1): 275-287, Available at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959378011001336.




Theorizing Political–Industrial Ecology


Convener: Joshua Newell (University of Michigan)


This panel will consider the prospects for the development of a theory and praxis of political-industrial ecology, one that incorporates mass-balance approaches to advance the political ecology research agenda.  Beyond methodological approaches to quantify the stocks and flows of a commodity or resource, political-industrial ecology looks to the broader social, political and historical circumstances dynamically shaping the transformation of inputs into a product, commodity or material process and the various impacts of the different type of ‘input-outputs’.  In addition to pondering the potentialities of infusing political ecology and industrial ecology research, the panel will critically evaluate the epistemological and methodological challenges, benefits, and prospects of industrial ecology approaches, including narratives of ecological modernization, overcoming “apolitical” industrial ecologies, and the bifurcation of nature from society.


Please contact Joshua Newell (jpnewell [at] umich.edu).


Energy Mapping and Modeling

Conveners: Olufemi A. Omitaomu (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), omitaomuoa@ornl.gov
Kirby E. Calvert (Pennsylvania State University), kec21@psu.edu

Ensuring access to abundant and reliable sources of energy is a vital aspect in improving the safety, quality of life, and economic health of the modern world. Energy-related geospatial research allows stakeholders to efficiently identify new and existing energy resources, as well as the infrastructures necessary to deliver these resources to various end-users. Geospatial information and technologies are increasingly playing a vital role in integrated supply-demand modeling and energy system planning at local, regional, and national scales.  At the same time, geospatial research enables spatially explicit assessments of the social and environmental impacts and trade-offs associated with particular patterns of energy production, distribution, and use.  In these ways, energy mapping and geospatial modeling can bring together multiple stakeholders and are critical to facilitating informed decisions in the energy sector writ large.

With this in mind, we invite paper submissions for a session at the American Association of Geographers' 2015 Annual Meeting focused on energy-related geospatial research. Possible topics for paper submissions may include (but are not limited to):

- Climate Impacts on Energy Resources and Infrastructure
- Digital Energy
- Energy GeoInformatics
- Electric Grid Visualization: Cartographic and Computational Challenges
- Geospatial Techniques for Energy Infrastructure Mapping and Modeling
- Geospatial Techniques for Energy Resource Assessment and Modeling
- Geospatial Patterns in Energy Production and Consumption
- The Human and Energy Interface
- The Role of Geographic Information and Technologies in Energy Policy, Planning, and Investment Decisions
- Interactions between Energy and the Environment
- Renewable Energy Potential
- Sustainable Urban Energy Systems

To Participate:
Contact Olufemi Omitaomu (omitaomua [at] oml.gov) and Kirby Calvert (kec21 [at] psu.edu) directly with an abstract if you would like to participate (please 'CC' all emails), and then follow up with your AAG PIN along with your submitted abstract (submit through the AAG website).


Harder, Faster, Deeper, Stronger: Ecological Restructuring and the Primary Sector

Conveners: Beatriz Bustos (Universidad de Chile, Department of Geography) and Gavin Bridge (Durham University, Department of Geography)

The last few years have seen a growing interest in understanding the significance of contemporary resource and commodity booms. Papers, panels and other interventions have, in different ways, highlighted and problematized the geographies and political ecologies to which new rounds of primary sector investment and production are giving rise. As welcome and exciting as this flourishing of work on resources is, sustained attention has yet to be given to how the ‘nature-facing’ character of these sectors influences their geographic and organisational form during periods of boom (and bust). From time to time this question of ‘industrial dynamics’ has been raised by those working on the political economy of raw materials and, as a result of these earlier forays, several conceptual resources are available which now provide initial points of entry.

 Our interest is in understanding how resource and commodity booms involve not only increases in output and spatial shifts in production, but may do so  - at least in part – by ‘taking hold directly’ (Boyd et al. 2001) of the biophysical system on which these sectors depend. Our aim in this session is develop a better sense of how the biophysical processes central to raw material production may be re-worked during periods of resource boom and bust: how, for example, they may be made to run harder or faster in order to speed up turn-over time; or how production systems push deeper down trophic levels/resource quality pyramids or accentuate qualities (like strength or lightness) by innovating at the molecular level. In short, we are interested in how biophysical systems are re-made at moments of economic expansion and recession. We invite papers that focus on the nature-facing aspect of primary industries, and the extent to which biophysical processes may (or fail to) be pushed/pulled/re-shaped to suit the dynamics of capital accumulation. We particularly welcome papers that are empirically informed but which also engage conceptually with processes of ecological restructuring including, although not at all limited to, the following:

 - Intensification and ‘commodity deepening’ (Moore 2010)

- Innovation and the ‘technological treadmill’ of production (Schnaiberg 1980)

- Extensification, spatial fix and ecological crisis

- Enhancing the productivity of ‘eco-regulatory’ labour (Benton 1989)

- Formal vs. real subsumption of nature (Boyd et al. 2001)

- Financialisation and the primary sector

We welcome abstracts on themes and cases relevant to this call. Abstracts should be a maximum of 250 words and include keywords and title. Please submit abstracts to either Beatriz Bustos (bibustos at uchilefau dot cl) or Gavin Bridge (g.j.bridge at durham.ac dot uk) by October 29th 2014. 


Hydrocarbon Governance and New Geographies of Fracking

Conveners: Matthew Fry (University of North Texas, Department of Geography) and Thomas Loder (Texas A&M University, Department of Geography)

Newly accessible shale deposits and other unconventional sources of oil and gas have dramatically increased global hydrocarbon reserves and are regarded as major future energy sources. Geographical analysis is critical to determine processes of hydrocarbon development and its impacts, as well as to inform policy debates. Despite a growing body of literature on the geography of energy (Bridge et al. 2013; Pasqualetti and Brown 2014), empirical research on hydrocarbons and governance is limited, with most scholarship on hydrocarbons and governance mainly done at scales of the state and globe.  The goal of this session is to provide a venue for empirical and data-driven findings on the fracking revolution and contemporary hydrocarbon boom.  We aim to bring together geographers using place-based or case studies to examine human and environmental outcomes of hydrocarbon production, distribution, and consumption via diverse theoretical perspectives (e.g., nature-society, legal geographies, environmental governance, discourse theory, split estate theory, regulationist approaches, cultural landscape studies, post-structuralism, psychoanalytic and affective theories). 

Questions addressed in the session include: 

- What types of data are geographers collecting, and what type of research design are geographers using?

- What perspectives do social science and humanities-based studies of energy provide beyond those offered by media studies and physical/environmental science?

- What connections can be drawn between hydrocarbon governance and broader political economic processes?

- How does the hydrocarbon boom complicate transitions toward sustainable futures?

- How does the governance of hydrocarbons compare to other forms of energy and resource governance?

- How do contemporary hydrocarbon booms (re)structure places, landscapes, societies, and cultures?

Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

- Hydraulic Fracturing

- Urban vs. rural drilling

- Local governance

- Hydrocarbon vs. renewable energy production

- Resource extraction and economic change

- Support for/resistance to hydrocarbon production

- Pollution and human/animal health

- Land-tenure and sovereignty

- Hydrocarbons and the media

- Population, crime and labor

- Transportation, distribution, storage and safety

- Energy, climate change and sustainability


Pasqualetti, M. J., & Brown, M. A. (2014). Ancient discipline, modern concern: geographers in the field of energy and society. Energy Research & Social Science, 1, 122-133.

Bridge, G., Bouzarovski, S., Bradshaw, M., & Eyre, N. (2013). Geographies of energy transition: Space, place and the low-carbon economy. Energy Policy, 53, 331-340.

Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to Matthew Fry (mfry [at] unt.edu) and (tloder [at] neo.tamu.edu) no later than the 20th of October 2014.



Everyday geographies of global, urban infrastructures of energy


Conveners: Jonathan Silver (Durham University), Anthony Levenda (Portland State University)


Energy forms a crucial support system for the everyday reproduction of urban life in all its forms. The planetary scale infrastructures that produce and distribute energy for towns and cities are actively being reconfigured across various geographies in response to a range of ongoing global-local pressures, processes and imperatives including climate change and low carbon agendas, securitization, financial crisis and ongoing forms of political contestation. Such material transformations are shaping new geographies both within and beyond urban regions that suggest new considerations about politics, inequality and everyday life across energy infrastructures. 


This session is interested in the everyday geographies of planetary scale (urban) infrastructures of energy relating to extraction, distribution, supply and consumption. Such geographies suggest the need to pay close attention to the ways in which these global, urban infrastructures of energy are shifted and intervened across by various social interests.  This call for papers seeks contributions from scholars interested in the these everyday transformations of energy infrastructures from a micro scale setting of the household through to the vast pipelines that transport oil. We invite papers focused both on the global North and South, including topics such as:


                The daily operations of planetary scale infrastructures

                Geographies of informality and incrementalism

                The struggles around energy poverty, precarity, and security

                The politics of knowledge and energy technology in everyday settings

                Contestations and resistances across various forms of energy infrastructure


Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words by email to both anthonylevenda [at] pdx.edu and j.d.silver [at] durham.ac.uk by October 18th. Notifications of inclusion in the session will be made by October 25th.  



            Slaying the Malthusian (Water) Dragon?: Critical  Geographical Perspectives on Desalination

            Conveners: Maria Fragkou (Universidad de Chile), Jamie McEvoy (Montana State University) and David Sauri (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)

According to business estimates, desalination provides freshwater to some 300 million people worldwide. Between 2008 and 2013 the world installed capacity jumped from 47.6 million cubic meters to 78.4 million cubic meters. China, alone, plans to double its installed capacity in just three years and reach 2.6 million cubic meters in 2015. While the Persian Gulf produces about half of the world’s desalinated water, over 150 countries have desalination facilities and installed capacity and production is expected to become perhaps the fastest growing activity within the water sector.

As any other technological fix to resource scarcity, desalinated water opens up a number of potentially interesting research avenues for geographers. For one thing, it is a resource that seriously challenges conventional views of scarcity since it taps an inexhaustible domain. Moreover, technological developments and the use of renewable energy sources are easing constraints to power the energy-intensive plants. Finally, desalination provides a much needed resource in islands and coastal areas subject to rapid processes of growth and socioenvironmental change

Still, this cornucopian dream is not free of contradictions. In this session we are interested in research, both in the developing and the developed world, that critically assesses this new, artificial and seemingly endless water resource. In particular, we are searching for contributions that 1) analyze desalination as a means for developing critical views on the concept of scarcity in the view of new cornucopian visions of nature-society relationships; 2) study the social and environmental dimensions and impacts of desalination in areas such as the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, the Caribbean, etc.; 3) consider desalination in the broader context of the water-energy nexus; 4) study the role of desalination in water governance, and especially in relation to the power struggles for the control of the water cycle by public, private, or community groups, 5) consider the regulatory aspects of desalination or 6) explore the relationships between  desalination and water geopolitics in conflict-ridden countries. Research that explores other geographical aspects or dimensions of desalination will also be of interest.

Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to Maria Fragkou (mariac.fragkou@gmail.com) by Friday, October 24, 2014.



Socio-Technical (Sustainability) Transitions in the making: emerging geographies of eco-innovation and green industrial change


Conveners: Lars Coenen (Lund University), Christian Binz (Harvard University), Jim Murphy (Clark University) and Bernhard Truffer (EAWAG & Utrecht University)


In recent years, economic geographers have started to engage increasingly with what can be labelled broadly as the greening of the economy (Hayter, 2008; Aoyama et al., 2011). Following ecological modernization theory, environmental care is increasingly treated as an economic opportunity giving rise to eco-innovation, green industrial transformation and new industry formation. Ecological modernization theory has been criticized however for black-boxing why, when and where green technological changes and innovation have occur (Gibbs, 2006). At the same time, there is  growing awareness that in light of ‘an ecological turn’ conventional analytical frameworks to investigate innovation are too narrow and need to become better equipped to deal with innovation in the broadest sense – social as well as economic, public sector as well as private sector (Healy and Morgan, 2012).


The literature on socio-technical (sustainability) transitions resonates with this concern. Apart from acknowledging a broader notion of innovation to accommodate sustainable development (including social and grassroots innovation), it emphasizes the social construction, evolutionary path-dependency and political contestation in relation to the emergence and diffusion of eco-innovation (Truffer and Coenen, 2012; Lawhon and Murphy, 2012). Eschewing a notion of eco-innovation as some sort of technical fix, it stresses transformative systemic change through co-evolution between institutions, markets, user practices, industrial dynamics and technological trajectories (Geels et al., 2008).


So far, there are however relatively few studies dealing (explicitly) with the spatial dimensions of eco-innovation, green industry and ultimately sustainability transitions. Some argue that the locational patterns of clean-tech industries are rapidly internationalizing and showing a shift to newly emerging economies where especially China and India have been very quick and successful in developing highly competitive wind, photovoltaics or water recycling industries (Binz et al., 2012). Evidence is growing that explanatory frameworks on the locational dynamics of eco-innovation and green(ing) industries need to embrace a more multi-scalar perspective. Moreover, a recent literature review of the emerging field of studies dealing with the geography of socio-technical transitions found wide consensus that place-specificity matters while there is still little generalizable knowledge and insight about how place-specificity matters for transitions (Hansen and Coenen, 2014).


To address these gaps, this session is interested in (but not limited to) papers that deal with questions such as:


- Where do eco-innovations and green industries emerge and develop, and why?  What role do/can local governments play in supporting such industries in light of increasingly globalized industry and knowledge dynamics?

- How do innovation and production networks span scales and interconnect different places in the course of industry development?  How could a spatial life cycle of cleantech industries look like?

- What is the role and importance of actors, networks and institutions at different scales for innovation processes and industry dynamics in clean technology?  What role do transnational structures (like transnational companies, international treaties, etc.) play in furthering sustainability transitions?

- In how far do policies that are oriented at sustainability transitions take the geographical realities of cleantech industry development into account?  Where are the limits of nationally framed (industrial, energy, climate) policies and where is a more transnational approach warranted?  What do we know about the multi-level governance of green industrial policy (e.g. offshore wind in the EU compared to policies of member states)?

- How can we assess the productive interfaces between regional policies and green industrial and innovation policy?

- How can sustainability concerns in the Global South be interlinked with green industry development in OECD countries?  What sort of qualitatively different innovations are likely to be developed in the Global South (e.g. bottom of the pyramid innovations)?  Who will win or lose from sustainability oriented strategies of TNCs or international development aid, etc.?


We welcome studies from developed, emerging and developing economies and studies that encompass eco-innovation in a broad range of sectors including but not limited to energy, transport, water, food, etc.


If interested in presenting a paper in this session please send a title and abstract (max 250 words) to Lars Coenen (Lars.Coenen [at] circle.lu.se) by 20th October, 2014. 




Extracting knowledge and grounding truth: Opportunities and challenges with conducting fieldwork at sites of energy booms

Convener: Jeffrey Jenkins (University of California, Santa Cruz, Department of Environmental Studies)

Session Description: Fieldwork involves a negotiation of complex relations, interests, situations, and logistics.  However, sites of resource booms often include the additional challenges of rapid socio-economic, environmental, and institutional changes, contributing to even more complicated, emotionally charged, and potentially dangerous research conditions. Furthermore, this political ecology of the subsoil applies to the sites of extraction and associated infrastructure undergoing change at the multiple stages of resource development and decline; from exploration to environmental review, construction, operation, decline, and post-operational monitoring (Bebbington and Bury 2013. Aschmann 1997). In the American west these extractive energy industries compete with existing 'old west' and 'new west' economies for claims to the value and values associated with landscape (Duane 2012, Walker 2014). The researcher's social license to operate with particular fieldwork-related research methods at sites of resource extraction is thus a product of how participant knowledge of socio-economic, environmental and institutional change is produced between existing land uses/livelihoods and the change brought by phasesextractive booms. The need to review the politics of knowledge and inquiry used by most research frameworks and their associated power imbalances has been repeatedly called for within geography literature (Katz, 1994; Kobayashi, 1994; de Leeuw et al., 2012; Koster et al., 2012).  We would like to narrow the focus of this call to focus upon the specific challenges of fieldwork methodology at sites of resource booms.

Key questions we invite panelists to consider include:

1. How does the restructuring of social relationships at sites of resource booms affect researcher-community relations within resource communities?

2. What challenges are associated with researcher's obtaining their own social license to operate within a community undergoing extractive change? And how does the phase of change matter (proposed, developing, operating).

3. How has 'big data' influenced how boom sites are studied with regard to project transparency, connectivity between participants, and the timeline of field studies?

4. What are the social forces that allow emerging extractive projects to take precedence over existing land uses/livelihoods?

5. How do changing institutional policies create conflicting priorities between and within stakeholders, particularly in locations where institutional roles often overlap?

6. How does researcher positionality (gender, ethnic background, language ability, advocacy positions) create challenges within sensitive research communities? 

7. How do power relations between researchers and research participants and even between research participants themselves create methodological issues?

8. How do researchers overcome these challenges and how does this enrich debates on methodology issues related to working with vulnerable communities?

9. How do researcher financial constraints impact studies, particularly those in remote or difficult to access areas where costs are often extremely high?

Jeffrey Jenkins

PhD Candidate, Department of Environmental Studies

University of California, Santa Cruz

(831) 854-7296

Jsjenkin [at] ucsc.edu



When Logics Collide: Political and Economic Geographies of Extraction

Organizers: Matt Himley (Illinois State University) and Tomas Frederiksen (University of Manchester)

 This session seeks to advance analyses of the relations and tensions between the economic and political geographies of extraction. Extractive economies manifest a "punctuated and discontinuous geographical expression" (Bridge 2011: 318), with mining and hydrocarbon capital not smoothly circulating across expansive territories, but rather through a patchwork of particularly 'rich' subterranean locations. Concurrently, the political systems though which capitalist extraction is carried out and governed typically maintain spatial forms that are distinct from the selective and irregular geographies of extraction itself. While within these political-legal geographies the territorial state, as owner of the subsoil in most cases, plays a central role, recent decades have witnessed a proliferation of differently scaled actors and institutions involved in extractive industry governance. This session aims to shed light on the frictions and mismatches between extraction's economic and political geographies, as well as on the ways in which these tensions contribute to struggles generated by extractive activities. As the extractive economy expands these struggles are proliferating, for example as national governments strive to secure a 'fair' share of extractive rents, or subnational groups fight to receive just compensation for extraction's socio-environmental ills. At the same time, the expansion of extractive industry does not just challenge existing political structures and systems but makes them anew, contributing to the creation of new, multi-scalar polities and novel, differently scaled regulatory architectures. This session, then, seeks to explore the contradictions and – at times generative – tensions between the political and the economic within the context of mineral and hydrocarbon development. We invite studies from both historical and contemporary contexts. Topics that papers might address include, but are not limited to:

 - Strategies by different types of national governments to engage the global and geographically 'restless' nature of extractive industries

 - The growth of global-scale norms and standards for extractive economies, and the implications of these for justice struggles in extractive regions

 - Independence movements spawned by the flows of materials and resources that extractive industries produce

 - The recent rise in 'resource nationalism' and associated struggles between states and subnational groups in extractive regions

 - The new polities and decision-making structures created in the context of corporate social responsibility programs rolled out by extractive firms

 - The relevance of Harvey's (2003) conceptual distinction between territorial and capitalist logics of power for understanding extractive industry dynamics.


Please email abstracts of no more than 250 words by Friday, October 10 to Matt Himley (matthimley [at] ilstu.edu) and Tomas Frederiksen (tomas.frederiksen [at] manchester.ac.uk).


Note: We expect to seek the contribution of a discussant for this session; as such, presenters will be asked to submit a written paper several weeks before the conference.


Urban Power, Urban Politics: reconnecting electricity and the city

Conveners: Harriet Bulkeley (Durham), Jonathan Rutherford (LATTS) and Oliver Coutard (LATTS)

“The versatility of electricity was tailor-made to help realize contemporary society’s prevailing values and goals” (Platt 1991, 282).

“If the public at first regarded electricity with utopian enthusiasm, it soon found electricity to be a matter of dollars and politics” (Nye 1990, 176).

Electrification and urbanisation have a tangled and intimate history. Ever since the emergence of electric lighting and the Great Exhibitions of the late C19th, electricity has by turns illuminated and cast shadow over the urban landscape. At the same time, as historians of electrification have so clearly demonstrated, electricity systems have been shaped by, through and of the urban, spotlighting the mutual constitution of networks of light and power and of urban capitalist modernities and cultures (Hughes 1983, Nye 1990). Nowhere was this co-evolution more apparent than in Chicago where the development and expansion of a dense electricity grid went hand in hand with the production and reproduction of an energy-intensive Midwest urban industrial economy (Platt 1991).

Yet, once forged into the modern infrastructure ideal of uniform and integrated provision, such systems, and especially their undergirding power and politics, have tended to disappear from view (Graham and Marvin 2001). As a result, both in the public imagination and in our interrogation of the urban arena, it has traditionally been their absence, rupture and lack that have caused research and policy communities to turn to questions of how to plan the urban for electricity, and how such networks can provide for the city. Yet, in response to questions of climate change, decarbonisation, energy security, and new technologies for electricity provision on the one hand, alongside shifting forms of electricity use and practice on the other – from mobile telephones to electric cars, air conditioning to aquariums – it is now electricity’s excess in the city which is also coming under question. This excess is framed as both a problem (cf. ‘overconsumption’, energy ‘inefficiency’) and a solution (cf. prospective benefits of all electric futures), prompting further interrogation over the work accomplished by competing visions and practices of the grid. Exercising power through electricity in the city involves not only providing access and service, but also managing demand; building grids, but also maintaining, dismantling and reconfiguring them in relation to constantly shifting forms, levels, times and rhythms of use and consumption. This politics of power enroll a wealth of actors and artifacts in new formations, whether these are termed ‘smart grids’, ‘decentralised networks’, ‘prosumers’ or ‘practices’.

In this session, we welcome papers seeking to interrogate the politics of power in the city, manifest through forms of electricity infrastructure, provision, practice, culture and economy. The session will consider the ways in which urban politics and urban power around the globe are being reconfigured together in response to both the excess and absence of electricity in the city, in relation to wider problematics of climate change, security, inequality and demand, and the consequences for how we might understand the sites and spaces of the urban politics of transition and resistance.


If you would like to participate in the session, please submit an abstract (250 words max) by email to h.a.bulkeley [at] durham.ac.uk by 17 October 2014.
People wanting to participate in other ways (e.g. discussant) please feel free to contact us as well.


Biofuels, Bioenergy and the Emerging Bio-Economy

Conveners: Kean Birch (York University, Canada), Kirby Calvert (Pennsylvania State University, USA)
Peter Kedron (Ryerson University, Canada) Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen (SUNY-Buffalo, USA) and Jennifer Baka (LSE, UK)

The ‘bio-economy’ represents a socio-ecological system in which biological material (e.g. plants) replaces fossil fuels as the underpinning natural resource base for our societies and economies. The bio-economy includes new forms of energy (e.g. biofuels), new intermediate inputs (e.g. biochemicals) and new products (e.g. bioplastics). According to governments, policy-makers and others promoting the bio-economy, it represents an important sustainable transition pathway based on the renewable qualities of ecological systems and the fact it does not compromise the longevity of current ecosystem services. At first glance then, the bio-economy promises a win-win solution to ecological, economic and societal challenges, even if it does necessitate the widespread geographical reorganization of agriculture, natural resource management, energy production and distribution, transport, innovation, manufacturing and consumption. However, critics of the bio-economy have noted a number of socially and environmentally regressive outcomes. These include: (a) large-scale (direct and indirect) land-use changes and possible carbon debts; (b) the readiness of technologies and infrastructures to form the foundation of a bio-economy; and, (c) rising incidences of land-grabbing that threaten prevailing livelihood strategies of already marginalized populations. Critical voices argue that the emerging bio-economy is being advanced as part of broader neoliberal visions, market-based mechanisms, and industrial policy instruments which construct nature and natural resources in certain ways (e.g. abundant and free, eco-efficient and renewable, etc.). Critics contend that what we need are community-based transition pathways leading to more localized socio-ecological transformations. At the same time, some proponents of the bio-economy question the capability of biomass stocks to provide the material required for large-scale conversion to bioenergy and biofuels, and call instead for biomass to be processed into lower volume but higher value ‘green’ chemicals and other products. We have to recognize that there are trade-offs whichever pathway is chosen, and that these trade-offs are geographically diverse and varied. This necessitates rigorous analytical and empirical work drawing in researchers from an array of sub-fields in geography (e.g. agriculture, resource, energy, economic, social) and from other disciplines (e.g. political economy, science and technology studies, critical business studies, sociology, etc.). The purpose of this paper session is to explore these issues from whichever perspective. We have suggested several possible topics and questions below, but these are intended as inspiration rather than limits. We invite contributions from all corners of the discipline and beyond.


Visions of the Bio-economy:

- How and with what effect is space (scale, nature, ecology) politicized in the construction and negotiation of the bio-economy?
- How are hybrid environmental-industrial policies used to promote the bio-economy as a technological fix for climate change and a vehicle for low-carbon growth?
- What are the links between the bio-economy and other socio-political spatial strategies and transformations (e.g., the post-staples economic transition; landscape conservatism; neo-liberalism; urbanization)?

Transition to the Bio-economy:

- What are the factors shaping the spatial dispersion or concentration of bioenergy, biofuels and the bio-economy?
- How are regional clusters of expertise converging / diverging as they pursue innovations necessary for bioenergy and biofuels?
- What are the path-dependent, path-breaking and path-shaping characteristics of biofuels, bioenergy and other biotechnologies?

Landscapes of the Bio-economy:

-What do bioenergy and biofuels landscapes look like, where are they emerging, what are their impacts?
- How might new technologies and new policies re-configure energy landscapes generally, and bioenergy landscapes in particular?
- Under what conditions, if any, is the bio-economy sustainable?
- How do these bioenergy and biofuels landscapes compare with other renewable energy landscapes?


If you would like to participate in the session, please submit an abstract (250 words max) by email to biofuelsaag2015 [at] gmail.com by 17 October 2014. People wanting to participate in other ways (e.g. discussant) please feel free to contact us as well.


New Economic Geographies of Resources and the Environment

Conveners: Kärg Kama (Oxford University, School of Geography and the Environment), 

Janelle Knox-Hayes (Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Public Policy) and

Caitlin McElroy (Oxford University, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment)

Session Overview:

In a renewed attempt to account for the generative capacities of the environment and material world, a growing body of political economy research interrogates how the distribution, properties and affordances of natural resources affect their regulation, commodification and marketization. These increasingly rich accounts of environment-economy interactions are undermined by a set of paradoxes. First, while the ‘biophysical’ qualities of resources are recognized to effect upon the operations of extractive economies and politics, ‘resources’ as such are equally understood to represent social constructions. Resources reflect the particular scientific knowledge practices, modes of valuation and governance regimes that constitute them. This highlights a need to conceptualize the essence and modes of non-human integration into socio-economic systems, including empirical studies of particular instances when commodification and marketization have failed. Second, while resources are considered as particular, locally and historically contingent framings of the natural environment (and its use value), they have been always ‘more than merely economic’, i.e. subjects of state security measures, development ambitions, political struggles, and affective engagements. This suggests that the constitution of resources is not merely a matter of geo-scientific and economic expertise, but always has cultural, political and moral implications. Finally, emerging studies in economic anthropology and geography note that many contemporary modes of resource appropriation and exchange are no longer ‘material’ in the conventional sense, pointing towards a need to attend to absence, the immaterial and virtual in resource-making, circulation and governance. In particular, the exchange of environmental externalities and qualified environmental productivity has the potential to create parallel economies. Nevertheless, financial markets and immaterial assets still derive their underlying value from material resources and social practices.

These paradoxes are often analysed from separate discourses: while one field of political economy (derived from scholars such as Marx and Polanyi) focuses on the commodification of labour and nature, recent work in political ecology, economic sociology and anthropology (derived from Science and Technology Studies) has moved to analyse the relational co-constitution of nature and economy. At their heart both of these avenues are concerned with the social and material construction of commodity streams and their social and environmental repercussions.  Nevertheless, neither of these approaches alone fully addresses the changing geographies of resource production, co-constitution of material and immaterial resources, and environmental markets. Furthermore, these approaches rarely enter into conversation with each other. We seek research that works at the intersection of these discourses or that seeks to define the space in between.

This session calls for cutting-edge research that bridges the disciplines of political economy, political ecology, economic sociology, anthropology, and science and technology studies. Papers that address a breadth of issues within the study of economies of resources and the natural environment are welcome with potential topics including resource-making, resource security and governance, and immaterial/parallel economies. We are seeking papers for three sessions outlined below:

1) Resource-making

- The role of different knowledge practices, techniques and technologies in the making of (new) resources, environmental services and material economies, and their geographical variation.
The relations between the geo-sciences, technological innovation and market design in the planning and operations of resource economies.
The contributions of different social science disciplines (i.e. political economy and economic sociology) as to how they make sense of the subscription of nature as resources and commodities. 

2) Resource Security, Scarcity, and Governance

Socio-environmental and political repercussions of securing extractive industries, and their geographical variation as well as  the political contestation and reconfiguration of key commodity streams and markets
Community intervention and co-governance in the regulation of resource appropriation, production, and revenue distribution
Digital economies, socio-political, economic and cultural institutions, and emerging geographies of environmental finance
The ways through which different theoretical approaches make sense of the subscription of nature in new, and often considered peripherial, geographies as well as through the intensification and increase in productivity at current sites of production.  In what ways are these practices qualitatively different?

3) Immaterial/parallel economies

Differences and tensions between material realities and immaterial circulations in the operation of resource economies and markets for key commodities
The role of materiality/immateriality in the exchange of positive and negative externalities such as greenhouse gas emissions, forestry and biodiversity
The spatial and temporal dynamics of the valuation, commodification and marketization of environmental services and resources
The significance of property and its historic role in defining the conceptualisation and use of resources

Conceptual as well as empirically focused papers are welcome.

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words, plus title and author details to Kärg Kama (karg.kama [at] ouce.ox.ac.uk), Janelle Knox-Hayes (JanelleKH [at] gatech.edu) or Caitlin McElroy (caitlin.mcelroy [at] smithschool.ox.ac.uk) by 9 October 2014.


Sustainable Energy for All: Renewable Energy and Decentralisation in Developing Regions

                                                                        Conveners: Ed Brown, John Harrison and Jon Cloke (Loughborough University)

This session aims to scope the implications for energy governance caused by the political process of decentralisation, particularly in a Global South context. Our starting point is the recognition that despite the interplay between decentralisation, the role of local and regional governance institutions, and the promotion of low carbon transitions being a theme which has been explored in some detail in the Global North, it is less well studied in other contexts. That said the implications of decentralising processes for clean energy development are particularly important across lower and lower middle income economies, particularly in an era when the theme of political decentralisation is once again firmly rising up the political agenda and clean energy for development is becoming increasingly important not just to their specific geographical location but to the wider region and world more generally. But with local authorities increasingly required to contribute to amongst other things financial management, local and regional economic development, strategic planning in the local area, budgeting procedures, tax collection, procurement procedures and standards, ethics for local government staff and elected representatives, and action against corruption, many in Africa and beyond are struggling with the competing demands placed on their time, resource and capabilities to adequately address issues of energy planning and governance. Added to this, local and regional institutions have traditionally not played these roles and arguably have low levels of knowledge about energy – be it technological possibilities, policy and regulatory frameworks, or funding schemes – while  the potential positive roles local and regional institutions might play in relation to energy are heavily conditioned by the broader national circumstances within which they are situated (e.g. powers devolved, budgets they can draw on, capacity to raise their own resources). In short, this means that as energy has risen up the international development and environmental agendas in recent years issues of local and regional governance – which have been at the forefront of other discussions over resources management and infrastructure development – do not appear to have been anywhere near as prominent in discussions of energy.

We therefore welcome papers that attempt to better understand the role of local authorities and regional institutions in addressing energy issues (particularly within the context of the moves towards energy decentralisation) and how these roles are being (or stand to be) affected by processes of political decentralisation. The focus of the session(s) is particularly on developments occurring in the Global South but we would welcome any papers which have a development perspective to them.

Potential topics/themes of interest might include, but are not limited to:

- Theoretical interventions and/or empirical studies which seek to advance new ways of conceptualising governance, decentralisation and energy from a development perspective;

- Papers which connect the decentralised energy revolution to broader processes of political, economic and social change;

- Empirical studies which interrogate the implications of political decentralisation for energy governance – the opportunities, the challenges, the barriers;

- Accounts examining the role of local and regional institutions in promoting decentralised energy generation;

- Studies which grapple with questions of agency (who is involved), process (how they are involved), and specific interests (why are they involved) in relation to decentralised energy generation and governance;

- Global comparative perspectives on decentralised energy generation and the role of local and regional institutions therein;-

- The implications of political decentralisation for energy governance;

- What research on enerfgy decentralisation and political decentralisation for energy governance can reveal - both intellectually and politically - for debats on decentralisation more generally.

To be considered for the session(s) please send your 250 word abstract to Ed Brown (E.D.Brown [at] lboro.ac.uk) by the deadline of 20 October. You will be notified of acceptance before 24 October, at which time you will need to have registered to receive your AAG pin.


Peer-Effects and Renewable Energy Technologies: Models, Policies, and Case Studies

Convener: Marcello Graziano (Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS), Department of Ecology) 

Peer-effects have been recognized as one of the major drivers influencing the diffusion of new technologies, whether these effects appear in the form of spatial proximity (neighborhood effect) or social interaction (network effect; Rogers, 1962; Bollinger and Gillingham, 2013). In recent years, several authors have been researching the role of peer-effects in the context of renewable energy technologies (RETs), such as McEachern and Hanson, 2008; Bollinger and Gillingham, 2012; Graziano and Gillingham, 2014; Müller and Rode, 2013; Rode and Weber, 2013. Using peer-effects, policymakers, marketers and, at last, communities, can improve the pace of their transition towards sustainable energy generation processes.

Because of their spatial and temporal aspect, neighborhood and peer-effects would greatly benefit from insights from geographical methods, whether these belong to spatial analysis, social geography or network analysis.

The suggested session offers an opportunity for researches to present new models, approaches, policy tools, and case studies on peer-effects in relation to the diffusion of RETs, whether centralized or distributed in nature. The works presented can either aim at identifying the existence of peer-effects, or at exploiting it to ease the diffusion of green technologies. No preference will be given to one technology over another.

Potential research topics may include but are not limited to:

- Statistical modelling of neighborhood effects;

- Case studies highlighting the presence of network or neighborhood effects in the context of RETs;

- The role of peer-effects at different diffusion stages of RETs;

- Analyses of policies exploiting peer-effects;

- Policy tools aimed at identifying and exploiting peer-effects; and

- Findings of peer-effects effects for specific RETs


Bollinger, B., Gillingham, K. (2012) Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels. Marketing Science, 31(6): 900-912.

Graziano, M., Gillingham, K. (2014). Spatial Patterns of Solar Photovoltaic System Adoption: The Influence of Neighbors and the Built Environment. Journal of Economic Geography, Forthcoming.

McEachern, M., Hanson, S. (2008) Socio-geographic Perception in the Diffusion of Innovation: Solar Energy Technology in Sri Lanka. Energy Policy, 36(7): 2578-2590.

Müller, S., Rode, J. (2013) The Adoption of Photovoltaic Systems in Wiesbaden, Germany. Economics of Innovation and New Technology, 22(5): 519-535.

Richter, L.-L. (2013) Social Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Technology in the UK. University of Cambridge Working Paper in Economics 1357.

Rode, J., Weber, A. (2013) Does Localized Imitation Drive Technology Adoption? A Case Study on Solar Cells in Germany. TU Darmstadt Working Paper.



Please e-mail the abstract and key words with your expression of intent to organizers by November 5th, 2014. Please make sure that your abstract conforms to the AAG guidelines in relation to title, word limit and key words and as specified at <http://www.aag.org/cs/annualmeeting/call_for_papers>. An abstract should be no more than 250 words that describes the presentation's purpose, methods, and conclusions as well as to include keywords. Full submissions will be given priority over submissions with just a paper title.


Energy Transitions and Local and Regional Development

Conveners: Stuart Dawley and Danny Mackinnon (Newcastle University)


Over the last decade or so considerable attention has been paid to the potential for innovation and industrial development in low-carbon energy technologies and cleantech as a key source of regional economic growth.  Early work in this field applied notions of clustering and regional innovation systems to explore the growth and development of particular hubs of low-carbon and renewable energy technologies (Cooke 2010). More recently, attention has shifted to understanding the growth of low-carbon energy technologies as part of a broader socio-technical ‘transition’ that emphasises structural innovation in energy systems.  Through this work economic geographers have developed a constructive geographical critique of the prominent multi-level perspective (MLP) and technological innovations systems (TIS) approaches to energy transitions by emphasising the territorial embeddedness of key actors and institutions and their multi-scalar relations (Truffer and Coenen 2012).  Although implicit within these debates on system level processes, less attention has been paid to working through the local and regional economic development dynamics associated with energy transition.

However, opportunities exist to bring together several parallel strands of work within economic geography to help better frame our understanding of the “new geographies of winners and losers” of energy transitions (Bridge et al 2013 p 337).  First, within evolutionary economic geography (EEG), work on path dependency, path creation, branching, and local and regional industrial evolution offer important insights in understanding how regions capture, or indeed miss, opportunities for growth as part of broader transition processes. Approaches within EEG offer the explicit local and regional dimension so far lacking in the national-level focus of transitions work (Essletzbichler 2012).  At the same time, understanding the institutional contexts of enabling or constraining environments of growth paths in EEG may connect to notions of ‘transitions spaces’, niches and regimes as conceptualised in MLP approaches. Second, the development of local and regional growth paths within local-carbon energy technologies is not only a product of processes operating within regions. Links to Global Production Networks (GPNs) and/or Global Value Chains maybe crucial sources of extra-regional investment, technology and knowledge.  Given the often physical and material locational factors of low-carbon energy development (e.g. wind; tidal; infrastructures), new GPN configurations are forming with important implications for the nature of ‘strategic couplings’ involved (Mackinnon 2012). Issues of power and position within the GPNs offer important insights for regional development as networks of energy production, knowledge and ownership become increasingly globalised.

In conceptual terms, these parallel strands of work overlap but are rarely brought together. This session invites papers from across these areas to better understand and frame the local and regional development dimensions of energy transitions. In addition to conceptual contributions, we also very much welcome empirical and policy analyses which connect to some of the following topics/areas:

- Theoretical cross-fertilisation, critique and synthesis

- Multi-scalar dimensions of the low-carbon energy transition and local and regional development

- Understanding the mechanisms of path creation and/or branching in the development of low-carbon growth

- GPNs and energy transitions: couplings and local and regional development

- Understanding paths not taken or unsuccessful attempts to stimulate growth

- The role of niches, market regulation and industrial policy in supporting growth

- Unpacking and working through institutional contexts, environments and policy interventions in enabling/constraining growth

- Variegated capitalisms, energy regulation and industrial policy

- The implications of energy transitions on the adaptation of existing forms of manufacturing activities and energy production

- Austerity states and low-carbon transition

- Understanding the quantitative and/or qualitative nature of local and regional development

- Exploring the potential for community based economic development within energy transitions

Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words, plus title and author details to Stuart Dawley (stuart.dawley [at] ncl.ac.uk) or Danny Mackinnon (danny.mackinnon [at] ncl.ac.uk) by 9 October 2014.


Energy Transitions 

Convener: Michael Minn (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Departments of Geography and Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences)

Energy transitions are inherently complex and prolonged affairs, and there are numerous unanswered questions about the timing and nature of the transition to whatever comes after the fossil fuel era. These questions cross disciplinary and epistemological lines, making them particularly suited to exploration from the perspectives of geography.

Following the success of our four Energy Transitions sessions at the 2014 Annual Meeting, we are planning invited sessions for this year's meeting that will bring together researchers looking at a variety of different energy transition issues.

This is a call for papers related to transitions in energysources and uses, along with the social, political and/or economic implications of those transitions. The domain is left intentionally broad in hopes of stimulating meaningful discussion and new insights that can inform policy, pedagogy and advocacy. Example paper topics and titles from last year's meeting included:

- The Social Construction of Oil Pipeline Debates in Canada

- Control and Coercion in Renewable Energy System Deployment

- Community Underdevelopment and Environmental Injustice in the

- Coal and Gas Fields of Southwestern Pennsylvania

- Socio-economic Impacts of Utility-scale Wind Energy Projects in Texas

- Financing Renewable Energy in an Age of Crisis

- Public Response to Energy Information Systems

Please submit a title, keywords, and a 250-word abstract to Michael Minn (aag [at] michaelminn.com) by 15 October  2014. Feel free to contact me with any questions, and please forward this call to others that you feel might be interested.


Geography, Sustainability and the Green Campus

Convener: Leslie A. Duram (Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Department of Geography and Director of Environmental Studies)

Sustainability is one of the "Hottest College Majors" according to a recent report by US News and World Report.  This session will investigate what we, as Geographers, are doing to provide our students with skills and knowledge related to sustainability education. The discipline of Geography has a long tradition of addressing these topics, whether we called it "man-land," "nature and society" or "humans and the environment."  Perhaps the newest term is simply "sustainability."

This session provides examples of how Geography is participating in promoting sustainability through our teaching, mentoring, and advising. We will explore: whether sustainability courses being taught in Geography Departments or elsewhere on campus;  if Geography Faculty are the advisors of student groups that focus on sustainability initiatives; and the extent to which we provide linkages between our geographic research and student interest in sustainability.

If you have examples from your own experience, and want to participate in this panel session, please contact me (duram [at] siu.edu).