The Energy Commons

In cooperation with the Faculty of Humanities

24mei2018 17:00 - 19:00


Questions of energy policy are treated as purely economic or technological issues – but are they? How can citizens get more democratic control over energy production, distribution, and use? With: Ashley Dawson, Jeff Diamanti and Carolyn Birdsall.

The climate crisis is, above all, an energy emergency. The energy sector is responsible for at least two-thirds of all greenhouse gas emissions. The world is growing increasingly hungry for power, and so carbon emissions continue to rise despite every effort to rein them in.

All too often, however, questions of energy policy are treated as purely economic or technological issues. Although renewable energy production has certainly been increasing, it has not been growing fast enough to displace fossil fuels, and it will not do so without decisive political action to shift the world towards a just transition.

The struggle for democratic control over energy production, distribution, and use is consequently a key front in the fight for a better, sustainable world. In order to make this power shift, we need to stop thinking of energy as a commodity and instead conceive of it as part of the global commons, a vital element in the great stock of air, water, plants, and collectively created cultural forms like music and language that have traditionally been regarded as the inheritance of humanity as a whole.

This event brings together two internationally-renowned researchers to discuss energy politics and the struggle for a just transition to renewable energy. Professor Ashley Dawson (Princeton Environmental Institute) will present his new book project entitled ‘The Energy Commons’. Professor Dawson will be joined by Dr. Jeff Diamanti (University of Amsterdam), for a discussion and critical reflection on the political, cultural, ethical and technological dimensions to current energy policy and practice.

About the speakers

Ashley Dawson is English professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island and currently visiting Professor in the Environment and the Humanities at the Princeton Environmental Institute. Dawson focuses on cultural studies, post-colonialism, eco-criticism and activism, particularly how people have perceived, affected and defended nature through art, politics and economics.

Jeff Diamanti teaches literary and cultural analysis, media studies, and environmental humanities. He was also the Media@McGill Postdoctoral Fellow in Media and the Environment. His work tracks the relationship between fossil fuels and media.

Carolyn Birdsall (moderator) is Assistant Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam, where she also directs the ASCA Cities Project.


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Location: SPUI25