Tyndall Manchester seminars

Tyndall Manchester seminars

The next Tyndall Manchester seminar will be presented by Vanesa Castán Broto (Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London) on Thursday 23rd May at 1pm, in room C21, Pariser Building

The material politics of urban energy transitions

Historical analyses of past transitions have led to a wealth of empirical understanding about how transitions occur. This type of analysis has most often focused on the social and material reconfigurations that follow a change in technology. What is less common is an analysis that focuses on how those technologies are embedded in a particular location, and in turn, how location configures transitions. From an urban perspective, the prevalence of certain technologies can only be explained with reference to the how those technologies are embedded within the urban fabric.

This paper builds upon Graham Harman’s tool-being theory to explore alternative means to conceptualize materiality in urban energy transitions. The objective of this paper is to characterize the spatial embeddedness of certain objects in certain cities and how they are tied to a particular politics of uncertainty and emergence. The methodology focuses on specific artefacts that characterize the urban energy system (such as neon in Hong Kong or cookstoves in Maputo), to characterize backward linkages and forward linkages as a means to study the material politics of urban energy transitions. 

Vanesa Castán Broto is a senior lecturer at the Bartlett Development Planning Unit, where she teaches sustainable urban environments and does research into experiments in urban environmental governance, the material politics of energy, and how space shapes energy possibilities in urban areas.




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