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© 2014 by Marta Musso. Sponsored by the Stavanger State Archives

Short invitation

Special issue proposal: The spatial dimension of energy transition policies and technologies.


Andrea Caragliu and Marcello Graziano


Transition processes towards sustainable energy futures require policy changes and innovations at multiple levels across the energy landscape. Production processes, uses, and energy conservation are interrelated policy spaces, which together move regions closer to their socioeconomic and ecological sustainability targets. The spatial effects of these policies have been studied across multiple disciplines and with varying foci: from diffused renewable energy technologies, to the effects of energy conservation polices within regions. This special issue will host benchmark works on the spatial dynamics and spatial effects of energy conservation and energy adoption policies across multiple global regions, thus presenting a cohesive body of policy findings and propositions for smoothing and accelerating sustainable transition processes from their multiple spaces. 

Roster of papers

•    Andrea Caragliu, Politecnico di Milano, ABC Department, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, 32, 20133 Milan (MI), Italy. E-mail address:
•    Marcello Graziano,  Central Michigan University, Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, Institute for Great Lakes Research, Dow Science Complex 280, Mount Pleasant (MI): 48859. E-mail address:

More than energy: Intersecting geographies of energy, society and economy


Cait Robinson, Centre for Urban and Regional Development Studies, Newcastle University 

Gareth Powells, Department of Geography, Newcastle University, 

Matthew Scott, Department of Geography, Newcastle University,



A growing research agenda has emerged in energy geographies, positioning energy provision and use as spatial phenomena. Simultaneously, energy has shifted from being solely the preserve of technical disciplines, to be understood as co-produced with and by society (Bridge, et al. 2013). Once re-framed as being embedded in the social and political as well as the technical energy demand, consumption, production and vulnerability can be seen to intersect with a range of other processes and structures beyond those, like climate, that are most often associated with it.


The importance of broadening the scope of enquiry is evident in explorations of the lived experience (Middlemiss and Gillard, 2015), nexus-thinking (Foden et al. 2019) and place-based responses to multiple sustainability challenges which have made visible some of the challenges of understanding and responding to cross-cutting energy-related issues. Yet, there remains a tendency for energy to be theorised and studied in relatively siloed ways. This is reflected in policy-making, with the energy implications of issues such as health, work and others receiving little attention. There are signs that this is beginning to change. Cities are increasingly committing to Net-Zero carbon targets as broad policy ambitions, but studies of these have tended to explore a relatively conservative set of intersections between food, energy and water. Subsequently there have been calls for a broader, more integrated approach to energy governance (Florini and Sovacool, 2011).


In this session we seek to explore a broader range of intersections with energy, possibly including housing, air quality, welfare, work and unemployment, health and mobility. Abstracts could address a range of themes, including:


  • Interactions between energy vulnerabilities and other types of disadvantage

  • The multiple scales at which energy interacts with other processes, structures and problematics

  • The lived experiences of intersecting more-then-energy challenges

  • Interactions between flexibilities of energy demand, working patterns and practice of child-, home- and self-care

  • Challenges and opportunities of investing in interventions when the returns will be split between policy areas, departments and actors. 

    Please send abstracts of up to 250 words to one of the session convenors by the 30th of January: Caitlin Robinson (, Gareth Powells ( or Matthew Scott ( 

    We would particularly welcome submissions from a diverse range of scholars, institutions and career stages. RGS-IBG is also piloting innovating formats for distance participation at the conference which we would also be keen to support.

Petrocultures 2020

August 26th-29th, Norwegian Petroleum Museum.



We live in turbulent times, and the role of petroleum is at the heart of global and local political debate. Indeed, a transition to a world without oil as its primary source of fuel and energy is needed if we want to reach the international climate targets, but the feasibility, realism and not least timing is strongly debated. Oil will indeed come to an end, but whether the closing date is set by emptied reservoirs, greener alternatives, or political decisions, is still to be determined. Recognizing that the “age of oil” is being challenged, petrocultures2020 invites scholars and artists, journalists and activists, politicians and business actors to critically engage in the debate and the alternatives. The conference will be held at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum and a nearby conference venue in Stavanger, the energy capital of Norway.


In petrocultures2020 we will host presentations, exhibits and conversations regarding the transformations needed to influence the transition from our current culture and dependency on oil. Looming over these discussions we recognize the wealth and progress enabled by our exploitation and use of oil. We acknowledge the technical and structural solutions developed and renewable transitions initiated by parts of the petroleum industry. We also observe the linkages that exist between the burning of fossil fuels, human induced climate change and differing levels of socio-environmental conflict. We thus emphasize oil’s dual role as the basis of prosperity and implication in environmental destruction and global conflict. Accepting this we aim to create a forum for a constructive exchange about the way green transition initiatives are narrated – including the way oil is narrated in the past, present and future – across social and political divides. It is also of interest to investigate how the petroleum industry can/will be a part of this transition, and what consequences the transition will have for the workers presently depending on the industry. Worker participation in the industry has historically and may well also in the future be a central aspect to reduce the inherent conflicts of a transition.

Under the banners of 5 thematic sections, petrocultures2020 seeks to advance conversations about the multiple dimensions of oil. We do so, recognizing that oil is not only as a source of energetic power, but of political, economic and social power. It is in this light we question oil’s significance and remaining power in an era of impending transformation.


oil:narratives. From fairy tales to curses, from celebratory tales of pioneers to dismal accounts of victims, oil has inspired contrasting narratives around the world. These encompass origins, belonging, identity, progress and development, for oil has been rendered in ways that matter to not only oil companies and governments, but to most people on the planet. It has helped found our world and continues to modulate it, establishing not only the present of the people of the world, but also their past and future. This section invites scholars to engage with oil as a catalyst for narratives that have framed nations, corporations, groups and individuals. We seek contributions that grapple with the forms that narratives take around oil, that ponder how they shape history and the ways in which they shape imaginaries of post-petroleum worlds.

oil:nature. Oil has served as the main catalyst for the 20th century’s economic growth and exploitation of natural resources. Oil has re-defined our relationship to and understanding of the nature-culture divide. Extractive frontiers have continuously expanded, inspiring the recent scientific proposal that we are now living in a new geological epoch in which humans have left an indelible impact on the planet i.e. the Anthropocene. In this section we invite papers and presentations that seek to explore this symbolic proposal and the possibility of it signalling the need for a profound change in human-nature relations. We wish to encourage thought and discussion of its impacts on personal identity, and ramifications for how we address pollution, social justice, public health and rights to land, water streams and seascapes.
oil:conflict. Numerous historical and contemporary events – from the Chaco War to recent Saudi bombings in Yemen – remind us that oil has been and remains a catalyst of conflicts. International wars, civil war, criminal violence and varying forms of socio-environmental contestation are linked to control of oil production, indicating oil’s influence across scales and temporalities. We invite scholars to reopen and reframe taken-for-granted assumptions about the resource curse, and to consider anew the significance of oil in geopolitics, economic development and alliances over extractive energy sources. We provide a space for scholars who work on violent contexts and aim to attract analysts who focus on the dynamics of militancy and alternative forms of socio-political and legal action to question oil governance. While inviting papers that reveal the inner workings of large-scale conflicts, we also anticipate papers that unpack how social movements and community campaigns oppose, benefit and tame oil production and exploration – frequently in the face of repressive prosecution and potential assassination.

oil:work. While scholarship on the petroleum industry is vast, research on oil workers and their communities is rather limited. Yet, oil workers are intrinsic to an understanding of oil cultures as well as the politics of oil. Their history is as old and tortuous as the history of commodified oil, hence this section invites papers that analyse the embedding of labour histories of oil in wider global histories of labour. On the one hand, oil workers are relatively few and difficult to organise, considering the economic and technological intensity of the petroleum industry and the physical infrastructure, on the other, oil workers and their organisations have played important roles in democratic transitions and economic struggles. Papers on all kinds of cultural and political expression of oil, work and workers are welcome, as are those that tackle how oil workers constitute themselves as groups and in trade unions, how their work schedules influence their social lives, and how their trade interacts with their situated social status. We open for discussions and exploration on the role of workers in the petroleum industries in a green transition.

oil:visions invites all papers that plumb visions of the cultural and historical transformations wrought by the oil industry, and interrogate transformations away from oil based societies. These visions can be artistic, critical or otherwise creative, and can refer to the past, present, or future, including solarpunk and post-apocalyptic visions of desirable futures. We welcome contributions that explore how literature, film, the visual arts, and other narrative and aesthetic forms of expression render visible phenomena around oil and the many transformations that exist in ontological kinship with it. Papers will draw out how the arts visualize, channel and evoke concerns and enthusiasm about justice, progress, technology, ecology, prosperity, scarcity, abundance and capital in an age of transformation. Ingrained and reflected here is the vital question of how visions of oil – past, present and future – shape the politics of transformation in the present.

Individual Papers: Please submit a 400 word (max) abstract that identifies the themes your paper responds to along with a 200 word (max) bio by 20 January 2020.

Pre-Formed Panels, Workshops, or Roundtables: Please submit a two page panel description that identifies the themes the panel responds to as well as the institution, research group, or network organizing the panel, workshop, or roundtable by 15 December 2019. Panels must also include 250 word abstracts and brief bios for the individual papers that comprise the panel.

All submissions and inquiries can be sent to the organizers' email:


Please follow the conference website here for more details and updates.