Energy Humanities

Amin Roshan, Wandering, 2019. Acrylic and crude oil, silk screen on canvas, 80×110 cm. (Courtesy of Amin Roshan)

Background and Scope

The Energy Humanities initiative is part of the Environmental Studies research cluster at the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University in Qatar. Led by GU-Q faculty members Professor Victoria Googasian, Professor Trish Kahle, and Professor Firat Oruc, the initiative aims to generate new scholarly conversations on the importance of everyday energetic life to the study of energy’s past, present, and future. Its goal is to facilitate the emergence of a new focus on energy as everyday lived experience, in order to add complexity and texture to the narratives within the field that have primarily focused on questions of state-building, international relations, economic development, and technological systems. Through close examinations of the relationship between energy, society, and culture from a comparative and transnational perspective, this research initiative calls for new ways of thinking about how we govern energy, how we communicate about it, how we understand the relationship between energy flows and social, cultural, political, and economic forms, and how we understand ordinary people’s encounters with energy in and beyond the nation-state. Examining questions related to the importance of everyday energetic life through the lens of history, anthropology, literature, film, cultural studies, science, and political studies the project will identify new multidisciplinary directions for the global energy humanities. 

Despite the Gulf’s centrality to the global flows of energy, little attention has been paid to the region within the existing energy humanities scholarship, which has so far been biased toward the Americas. Attending to the social and cultural manifestations of energy, this project will complement and add to the body of work on the Gulf and the Middle East that has focused on the role of state actors, geopolitics, and the political economy of resources. By shifting the focus on the everyday lived experiences of energy, the project aims to connect the study of the Gulf and the Middle East to the broader cultural and social histories of energy in the Global South. In doing so, it will not only contribute to the growing field of energy humanities but also provide new understandings of the influence and impacts of energy in the everyday lives of communities in the Middle East in ways that go beyond treating energy within the confines of state security, political stability, and economic rentierism.

The Energy Humanities initiative builds on the Center’s previous research output on Water and Conflict in the Middle East (2017), The “Resource Curse” in the Persian Gulf (2016), Geopolitics of Natural Resources in the Middle East (2015), and The Nuclear Question in the Middle East (2010), which have led to publication outcome of edited volumes and journal special issue. Initially, through moderated podcasts and webinars with global and regional experts in the field, the project will create a new intellectual space for the energy humanities. In the long term, the Energy Humanities initiative anticipates publishing original research through both traditional and digital platforms. 

Energy Aesthetics: New Directions in Studying the Cultural Life of Oil

Speakers: Anne Pasek, Cajetan Iheka, Caren Irr

Moderators: Firat Oruc, Trish Kahle, Victoria Googasian

November 29, 2021 – 6PM Doha Time

Everyday Energy: Approaches to Lived Experience

This inaugural panel discussion featured three area experts in the field of Energy Humanities, and was moderated by GU-Q faculty members, Victoria Googasian, Trish Kahle, and Firat Oruc.

April 7, 2021
8:00 pm – 9:30 pm (Qatar time) GMT 3+

Click here to read about the event.

Podcasts

These interdisciplinary and trans-regional podcast discussions focus and draw attention to different material or experiential facets of energy culture. Convening scholars and experts from around the world these discussions aim to draw connections between past and present, and between one locality and another in the global network of energy circulation.

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Everyday Energy

This podcast series is part of the Energy Humanities research initiative, which aims to generate new scholarly conversations on everyday lived experiences of energy. Together with our guests, we will explore new ways of thinking about how we understand ordinary people’s encounters with energy in various social, cultural, and political-economic forms

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Energy Aesthetics: Representing Lived Experiences of Oil

This new podcast cluster is part of the Energy Humanities research initiative. In these discussions and short interviews with experts, we explore the broader theme of energy aesthetics and representation of lived experiences of oil.