Undergraduate Course: The Anthropology of Energy in the Global South (SCAN10078)
|School||School of Social and Political Science
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||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, hydroelectricity, 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.
This course will introduce students to perspectives on energy from anthropology (and politics, sociology and geography), and to studies of low carbon energy transitions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. 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 international development, social anthropology, politics and international relations, sociology, human geography as well as area studies, economics and law.
Indicative themes and topics:
* The First Fuels: Labour, Colonialism and the Anthropocene
* Power, Modernity and the Grid
* Life off the Grid: Energy Poverty in Light, Heat and Power
* Democratic Fuel? Coal, Justice, and Displacement
* Lifeblood: Oil and Extractive Geopolitics in the Global South
* Damned by the Development: Hydroelectric Infrastructure
* Capitalising on the Sun: From Decentralised Solar Futures to Enclosing the Solar Commons
* Green Grabbing: Wind, Biofuels and Corporate Power
* From Uranium to Lithium: The Techno-politics of Extraction and Waste
* Overheating: Climate emergency and energy demand in the global south
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting 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?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Assessment will be based on:
(i) Short Essay: ¿Energy and Development in 50 Things¿ (30%)
a. Details: photo essay about an energy technology or infrastructure
b. Word count: 500 words + 5 images
c. Nb. Formal guidance will be given for how to prepare strong contributions which should have (not included in the word count) a list of at least 5 academic references in the bibliography.
(ii) Energising Development: Real World Case Study (70%)
a. Details: How does fuel and electricity underpin social and economic change in the Global South?¿ Address this question in reference to a detailed example.
b. World count: 3,500 words
c. Nb. Formal guidance will be given for how to prepare a strong piece of writing which should have (not included in the word count) a list of at least 20 academic references in the bibliography.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Gain critical awareness and extensive knowledge of key debates about the role of energy in development
- 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
- 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
- Identify and effectively navigate methodological and ethical complexities of researching energy in the Global South
|1) Gupta, Akhil. "An Anthropology of Electricity from the Global South." Cultural Anthropology 30, no. 4 (2015): 555:568. |
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.
|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
|Course organiser||Dr Sophie Haines
Tel: (0131 6)51 1717
|Course secretary||Miss Katarzyna Pietrzak
Tel: (0131 6)51 3162