- ARCHIVE as at 1 September 2019

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Social Anthropology

Undergraduate Course: The Anthropology of Energy in the Global South (SCAN10078)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will introduce students to perspectives on energy from anthropology and to studies of low carbon energy transitions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Course description Access to modern energy is seen as fundamental to reducing poverty, and improving education, livelihoods and health across the global South. Yet in the context of climate change and the UN's sustainable development goals the question of what kind of energy is appropriate for whom has become more important than ever. Meanwhile, the quest for new reserves of fossil fuels and attempts to increase the use of alternative energy is transforming relationships between the global south and the global north.

This course approaches the study of energy, fuel and electricity in Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the Pacific as the study of social, cultural and political change. We will explore both the role of energy in post-colonial projects of nationalist modernisation and the place of energy in contemporary projects of socio-economic development. We will explore the social and cultural politics of oil, coal, hydro electricity, wind and solar. And we will shift focus between big infrastructure projects, like dams and coal plants, designed to generate electricity for people living on the grid to small, decentralised infrastructures projects designed for those living off the grid.

The course is built around weekly case studies drawn from diverse global contexts and focused on specific examples. The course will utilise a variety of research-led teaching and learning techniques, applying critical pedagogical approaches and building key skills to apply innovative research methods. The course will be of particular interest to students taking programmes in social anthropology, sustainable development, politics and international relations, sociology, human geography as well as area studies, economics and law.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Anthropology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Gain critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key debates about the role of energy in development
  2. Gain an in-depth understanding of the power relationships involved in the extraction of fossil fuel reserves and transitions to low carbon or alternative energy futures
  3. Critically analyse and evaluate the energy infrastructure projects and low development projects initiated by governments, international finance organisations, development agencies, social entrepreneurs, NGO and rural communities
  4. Identify and effectively navigate methodological and ethical complexities of researching energy in the Global South
Reading List
1) Gupta, Akhil. "An Anthropology of Electricity from the Global South." Cultural Anthropology 30, no. 4 (2015): 555568.
2) Bickerstaff, K., Walker, G. P., & Bulkeley, H. (Eds.). (2013). Introduction to Energy Justice in a Changing Climate: Social equity and low-carbon energy. Zed Books.
3) MacDonald, David A., ed. 2009 Electric Capitalism: Re-colonising Africa on the Power Grid. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
4) Kale, Sunila S. 2014 Electrifying India: Regional Political Economies of Development. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.
5) Winther, Tanja. 2013. The impact of electricity: Development, desires and dilemmas. Berghahn
6) Appel, H., Mason, A., & Watts, M. (Eds.). (2015). Subterranean Estates: Life Worlds of Oil and Gas. Cornell University Press.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the programme, students will be equipped with new skills in:

1. Synthesising and analysing empirical and theoretical material from a variety of sources
2. Examining, using and assessing evidence in support of explanatory and normative claims
3. Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account.
4. Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Jamie Cross
Course secretaryMr Ewen Miller
Tel: (0131 6)50 3925
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information