Royal Geography Society conference 2013

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Jonathan Silver co-organised and presented a paper at three linked sessions on
‘The contested politics of urban electricity networks: Insights from urban infrastructure studies’
This included a number of papers from African cities including Accra and Maputo
This session is aimed at unpacking the ongoing politics across electricity networks in cities. It aims at drawing attention to the political and political ecological dimensions shaping electricity networks and their current transformation. Cities across the global North and South are reimagining and redeploying their electricity networks in response to issues of climate change, resource constraints, the search for energy efficiency and the advent of smart digital technologies. Building on previous work that highlight the political nature of urban infrastructures (Graham and Marvin, 2001; McFarlane and Rutherford, 2008; Coutard and Rutherford, 2009; Swyngedouw, 2004) and uncover the uneven power relations embedded in the urbanization of nature through infrastructure (Kaika and Swyngedouw, 2000; Swyngedouw and Heynen, 2003), the session aims to explore new ways in which the urban infrastructure literature can contribute to the field of energy geographies, furthering its use for understanding urbanization processes. Some of the key questions we aim to collectively answer are:
• How the reconstitution of electricity networks through discourses on decentralized generation, ‘smart’ technologies and localized electricity markets are producing a new type of geographies of post-networked urbanism (Coutard and Rutherford, 2009).
• How historical processes of uneven urbanization contribute to current electricity network geographies and associated social relations (Jaglin, 2008; Kooy and Bakker, 2008).
• How urban electricity networks relate to infrastructural notions of informality, the incremental and the everyday (Simone, 2004) within and across post-colonial settings.
• What is the role of urban electricity networks in reinforcing, reflecting or reducing urban inequalities and shaping a splintered urbanism (Graham and Marvin, 2001).
• How wider theoretical debates around post-structural approaches to urban infrastructures, such as assemblage urbanism (McFarlane, 2011) or vital materialities (Bennett, 2010), can shape our understandings and conceptualizations of urban electricity networks.
Details of speakers here