In late January 2022, hundreds of big rigs bannered with Canadian flags rolled across the nation’s highways in “The Freedom Convoy,” a movement of purportedly ordinary truckers opposed to COVID-19 mandates. Throughout the whole ordeal, however, surprisingly little was said in the news media about the convoy’s energy politics. In this feature essay, Tanner Mirrlees, an Associate Professor in Communication and Digital Media Studies at Ontario Tech University, peels back the layers of energy politics at the heart of the convoy, revealing its alignment with carbon elites.
In the final installment in our series on the impact of Timothy Mitchell's "Carbon Democracy," historian Troy Vettese explores Mitchell's unique scholarly method. Vettese argues that the power and originality of Mitchell's books, including "Carbon Democracy," stems from his adoption of approaches from postcolonial studies and Actor Network Theory (ANT). Mitchell has avoided ANT’s tendency to conservatism and has instead practised a radical critique of the economic, environmental, and political structures that he studies.
In the third installment in our series on the impact of Timothy Mitchell's "Carbon Democracy," communication studies researcher Ayesha Vemuri explores Mitchell's larger oeuvre to argue that mainstream responses to address the climate crisis can be understood as extensions of what he calls “the rule of experts.” By maintaining a global hegemony of elite expertise over that of local and indigenous knowledges, efforts to address the ecological crisis uphold structures of power that undergird the ecological crisis. If we want to develop just responses to climate change, we will need a new approach to expertise.
In the second installment in our series of essays on the impact of Timothy Mitchell's "Carbon Democracy," historian and cultural critic Bob Johnson assesses the book's intellectual contributions to the study of energy and society. In so doing, Johnson argues that the book's two main insights have too often been neglected and calls on scholars to consider anew how we might engage more deeply with the implications of Mitchell's work.
In the first installment in our series of essays on the impact of Timothy Mitchell's "Carbon Democracy," political scientist Cara Daggett explores why the book works so well in the classroom. Carbon Democracy, Daggett notes, upends influential American mythologies using a writing and analytical style that helps readers see that what we took to be natural fact is indeed contingent and contestable. Students find these moments just as intellectually invigorating as their professors do.
Russia and the European Union are substantially linked by trade in energy resources. Katja Bruisch and Benjamin Beuerle argue that these links have put European leaders, who are ostensibly committed to decarbonization, in the difficult position of backtracking on their goals to minimize energy insecurity and economic chaos--a position they could have mitigated or even avoided by more decisive action on fossil fuels. Russia’s brutal, largely oil- and gas-financed invasion of Ukraine brings home in the darkest of ways the dangers of basing international relations, institutions, economies, and lifestyles on fossil fuels.
Anthropologist Zeynep Oguz examines the entanglement of militarization and ecological destruction in the new natural gas frontier of the Eastern Mediterranean. Oguz argues that energy humanities perspectives can intervene in such cases by undermining the conventional worldviews upon which geopolitics, security, and extractivism rely to open up new forms of politics and possible futures.
Adam Carlson teases out how the framing of resource development in Canada often supports authoritarian resource rhetoric and policies. The way we talk about "Canadian oil", it turns out, is deeply political and cannot be separated from ongoing histories of resource extraction and dispossession.
In this author's note on his new book, Who Owns the Wind?, anthropologist David Hughes offers a tantalizing glimpse of what energy justice could look like, and why it matters.
A new book edited by Bart Hawkins Kreps and Clifford W. Cobb explores the collective transformations that will need to take place in a post-fossil fuel, post-economic growth era.
In their astonishing memoirs, published only weeks apart, Kazim Ali and Robert Boschman explore how their personal and family stories overlap with histories of violence, colonialism, indigenous dispossession, and energy development in Western Canada. In Fall 2021, Boschman and Ali sat down with Energy Humanities editors to discuss the resonances between their narratives and the themes that unite them. The conversation that followed was an intimate and affecting dialogue between two men wrestling with the past.