Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationCalifornia, Irvine, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9722
Approve DateOctober 23, 2018
Project TitleAdams, James R., U. of California, Irvine,CA - To aid research on 'Data Ideologies in Energy Politics: Negotiating Infrastructure Transition in Austin, Texas,' supervised by Dr. Kim Fortun
JAMES R. ADAMS, then a graduate student at University of California, Irvine, California, was awarded funding in October 2018 to aid research on “Data Ideologies in Energy Politics: Negotiating Infrastructure Transition in Austin, Texas,” supervised by Dr. Kim Fortun. This dissertation consisted of twelve months of ethnographic research on Austin’s energy politics, investigating how diverse actors have come together and collaborated in the planning and practice of a city-scale transition to renewable energy. Data collection included media and archival analysis, ethnographic interviews, and participant observation with four unique-yet-overlapping collectives of clean energy practitioners: Austin city bureaucrats, data scientists and engineers, clean energy entrepreneurs and industry advocates, and climate and social justice activists. The research considered how these collectives diverged according to ideas about the kinds of data relevant to energy transition, how these data should be produced, and how they should be translated into climate/energy discourses, policies, and practices. Research findings showed the complex, multi-scalar fashion by which Austin’s techno-political regime of energy transition emerged and operated, prompting the refinement of a multi-scalar heuristic for guiding further energy humanities and social science research. Austin’s successes in the transition to renewable energy were also found to be powered by and entangled with investments in structural racism and fossil capital. Despite recent struggles to develop more equitable methods, concerns, and strategies for planning energy transition, these attempts are still haunted (and therefore attenuated) by persistent logics of colonialism and petrocapitalism.