Gökçe Günel

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arizona, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9461

Approve Date

April 25, 2017

Project Title

Gunel, Dr. Gokce, U. of Arizona, Tucson, AZ - To aid research on 'Powerships: Energy Imaginaries, Provisional Infrastructures and Afro-Asian Connections'

GOKCE GUNEL, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, was awarded funding in April 2017 to aid research on ‘Powerships: Energy Imaginaries, Provisional Infrastructures and Afro-Asian Connections.’ This grant supported ethnographic research on powerships ‘ repurposed ships that serve as mobile power generators. Currently, the only commercial producer of powerships is a family-owned Turkish company, which converts second-hand ships into floating power plants, and leases them to various countries for periods ranging from two to twenty years. Powerships attach themselves to national grids, and using heavy fuel oil or natural gas, produce inexpensive electricity for countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Ghana, Zambia and Indonesia. Through ethnographic analysis, this project interrogated how the producers and users of floating power plants understand current and future energy challenges. More specifically, the project asked: 1) What are possible emergent energy futures in non-Western countries? What are the conditions that facilitate and make contingent systems, such as floating power plants, desirable? 2) How are floating power plants engineered and used? What does the temporariness and contingency of power plants mean to the various actors involved in producing and employing them? How do we compare these provisional infrastructures to state-centric modernist infrastructures, such as hydroelectric dams? 3) How do recent transformations in social, political and economic relations between Turkey and countries in sub-Saharan Africa impact energy infrastructures and vice versa? Although the initial project proposal for this grant imagined that the project would take place in Turkey, Ghana and Lebanon, limitations with access required the fieldwork to focus only on Turkey and Ghana. Ethnographic research also took place among a Turkish business delegation in Algeria, Mauritania and Senegal during a diplomatic trip in February and March 2018.