Austin, Texas

April 24th – 26th, 2014

Co-sponsored by the Anthropology and Environment Society

Program chairs: Thomas Love & Cindy Isenhour

(Light from local micro-hydro system in La Libertad, Peru.  Photo courtesy Green Empowerment www.greenempowerment.org.)

Preliminary program /Call for papers / Paper and poster submission guidelines; Meeting format / Conference Registration, Fees / Directions / Accommodations / Travel / Regional attractions / Contact Organizers 


All the conference events will be held Hilton Garden Inn Austin Downtown/Convention Center, 500 N Interstate 35, Austin, TX 78701 Tel 512-480-8181


4:00 p.m. Registration and check-in open
5:00-6:00 p.m. Special Workshop: “Energy Basics for Social Scientists”
6:00-6:30 break

6:30 – 8:00 Opening Reception and Keynote Speech
Charles Hall [Keynote] Energy and Human Economies: Surplus Energy and Material Well- Being in the Past, Present and Future


8:30 a.m. Introductory remarks

Session 1: Energy and Economy: History, Theory & Framing
8:40-9:00 Joseph Tainter [Distinguished Lecture] Energy Gain and Complexity: Using the Human and Ecological Past to Understand Our Future
9:00-9:20 Discussion

9:20-9:40 Canay Ozden-Schilling The Dream of Efficient Markets: The Commoditization of US Electricity
9:40-10:00 Discussion

10:00-10:20 Stephanie Rupp Underlying Power: Energy Infrastructure and Inequality in New York City
10:20-10:40 Discussion

10:40-10:50 Break

10:50-11:10 Jamie Cross Lighting Life Off the Grid: Energy, Exchange and Relational Infrastructures in Papua New Guinea
11:10-11:30 Discussion

11:30-11:50 Veronica Davidov Spheres of Exchange in Ecological Economics
11:50-12:10 Discussion

12:10 – 1:30 Business Lunch: SEA Student Paper Prize Presentation

Session 2a: Production, Extraction and Materiality

1:30-1:50 Katrin Vogel Lithium: A Motor for Change?
1:50-2:10 Discussion

2:10-2:30 Caura Wood Inside the Halo Zone: Geology, Finance and Corporate Exchange
2:30-2:50 Discussion

2:50-3:10 Tom Ozden-Schilling Prospecting and Promising on British Columbia’s “Clean- Tech Frontier”
3:10-3:30 Discussion

3:30-3:40 Break

3:40-4:00 Maria Cielo and Lisset Coba Exploring the Contested Territories of Energy Extraction: Women, Nature and Development in Sites of Ecuador’s Petroleum Circuit
4:00-4:20 Discussion

4:20-4:40 Diane Austin An Emergent Economy
4:40-5:10 Discussion

Session 2b: Imagined Energy Futures and Rocky Transitions
1:30-1:50 Jessica Rolston Energy Security and Sociotechnical Imaginaries in the Productive American West
1:50-2:10 Discussion

2:10-2:30 Gokce Gunel Constructive Ambiguity: Global Horizons of Abu Dhabi’s Renewable & CleanTec Projects
2:30-2:50 Discussion

2:50-3:10 Dorle Drackle and Werner Krauss Contested Energy Transition: The “Energiewende” in Germany
3:10-3:30 Discussion

3:30-3:40 Break

3:40-4:00 Austin Lord Turbulence and Territory: The Lived Experience of Hydropower Development in Nepal
4:00-4:20 Discussion

4:20-4:40 Tyler Rooker ‘Sustainable’ Urban Habitats in Shanghai
4:40-5:10 Discussion

5:10-5:30 Break

5:30 – 7:30 Plenary Poster Session (wine/cheese reception)
Mark Arceño Temporal Landscapes and Changing Tides: Pictorial Representations of Food Regimes
Lisa Beiswenger They Sell Neat Stuff: An Agency Model of Production, Exchange, and Consumption
Sebastian Braun Fracking Energy Booms on the Plains: It’s all about the Water
Justin Buccifero Mediated Energy: Carrying Capacity in the Columbia Basin and Terra Firme
Abigail Buffington Decisions, Decisions: Migrations through the Lens of the Archaeobotanical Record
Ben Campbell Communities of Energy
Hilary Chart Diamonds Out, Food In: Between Economic Inclusion and Independence in Botswana
Jessica Chelekis The Art of Collecting Payment: Credit, Debt, and Avon in the Amazon
Hulya Dogan Changing Consumption Styles of Meskhetian Turks in the United States
Russell Edwards Locally Crafted: Energizing Consumers’ Interest in Craft Breweries
Jessie Fly and Jeff Felardo Valuing a Forest: Incommensurability in a Time of Carbon Credit Programs
Stephanie Friede Whirlwinds: Turbines, Energy Infrastructure, and Green Hopes in Southern Mexico
Ana Hasemann-Lara The Turbulent Waters of Development: Lenca Against Hydroelectric in Honduras
Lauren Hayes Global Market Demand and Labor Cooperation in Appalachian Kentucky
David Himmelfarb Coming Together: Climate Change, Resilience, and Mutual Aid in the SE US
Brittany Hoback Blurred Lines: Bringing the Back Regions Out Front
Barbara Holler Eating or Heating? The Interface of Fuel Poverty and Policy Initiatives in the UK
Jennifer Johnson “At least in sauce we don’t suffer”: Vernacular Fisheries and Strange Sustainabilities
Eric Jones and Art Murphy As the Volcano Erupts, the Question is “To Farm or not to Farm?”
Chhaya Kolavalli Stewards of the Earth: Attempts to Christian-ize Secular Society through Food Justice
Ruben Langle Viento, Territorio, Culturas, Gobiernos y Aerogeneradores en Tehuantepec
Jason Morris Anonymous, Virtual, Personal: Emerging Political Economies of ‘Green’ Electricity
Salomón Nahmad & Abraham Nahón The social impact of eo?lic energy in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec
Ann Reed Winners and Losers in the Oil Patch: North Dakota’s Boom and Community-based Concerns
John Schelhas “Even Our Dairy Queen Shut Down”: Bioenergy and Sustainability in the U.S. South
Karl Schmid Car and Oil Dependencies and the Vulnerabilities of the Suburbs
Candace Skinner Ahupua’a and Tourism: Community Approaches to Resource Management in Hawai’i
Pamela Torres Empirical and Simulated Models for Calculating Residential Electricity Consumption
Heather Wehr The Gendered Commodification of Trauma at Guatemala NGOs
Christian Wells Negotiating the Water-Energy Nexus: Reclaiming Wastewater in Caribbean Tourism
Peter Wogan Why Go to a Casino? A Mexican-American View
Shuru Zhong Soaring Phoenix: the Economic Revolution and Reform in Rural Southeast China


Session 3: Cultural Models, Behavior and Decision-making
8:30-8:50 Eric Arnould and Melea Press Assessing Electrical Energy Consumption as Cultural Practice: Insight from the Rocky Mountain West
8:50-9:10 Discussion

9:10-9:30 James Acheson and Ann Acheson Offshore Wind Power Development in Maine: What about the Public Good?
9:30-9:50 Discussion

9:50-10:10  Davida Wood  Re-generating governance: techno-economic, political, and cultural challenges to governing the electricity sector
10:10-10:30 Discussion

10:30-10:40 Break

10:40-11:00 Charlotte Johnson The Heated Habitus: Tracing the Social Contract through Domestic Energy Enfrastructure in West London
11:00-11:20 Discussion

11:20-11:40 Rebeca Rivera Living our Values and Hope: Consumption, Aternative Habitus and Sustainable Cultural Capital
11:40-12:00 Discussion

Lunch (on own) OR Walking tour of downtown Austin
12:00-1:30 p.m.
Optional Walking Tour with Eliot Tretter: Urban Density for Energy Efficiency and the Economy of Gentrification

Session 4: Transitions: Governmentality, Political Economy
1:30-1:50 Sandy Smith-Nonini From Peak Oil to Peak Debt? The Transmutable Properties of Oil and Money
1:50-2:10 Discussion

2:10-2:30 Bilge Firat Energy and Transport Infrastructures and Peripheral Politics around the Bosphorus
2:30-2:50 Discussion

2:50 – 3:00 Break

3:00-3:20 Jalel Sager Monetary-Energy Regimes, Democracy, and Climate Change
3:20-3:40 Discussion

3:40-4:00 Chris Hebdon The Even Harder Path: Redefining Progress
4:00-4:20 Discussion

4:20 – 4:30 Break

4:30-5:30 Closing “Energy & Economy” Plenary Discussion

5:30 – 7:00 Break

7:00 p.m. Banquet Dinner


Anthropologists have a long, if uneven, history of engagement with studies of energy and economy – from the use of wind in ancient exchange and the effects of domestication on production, to the contemporary dependence on the consumption of fossil fuels. While Leslie White most explicitly incorporated energy in his mid-century macroevolutionary model, the discipline’s engagements with energy and economy include a wide variety of approaches ranging from cultural ecology and systems-based approaches to political ecology and ecofeminism. Despite these diverse engagements, economistic understandings of the relationship between energy and economy continue to dominate the intellectual and policy landscape.  Anthropological insights, however, make it clear that actual human engagements with energy almost never follow a simple logic of economic efficiency. What can the historical, material and ethnographic records tell us about the empirical relationships between the environment, economy, culture, and energy use? Better analysis of these mutually influencing relationships enriches scholarship and has critical policy relevance – particularly given the urgent need for a transition to less carbon-intensive energy sources.

Human societies have always relied on continued resource inputs, yet explicit consideration of energy is often neglected in social scientific work. Perhaps this is due to energy’s invisibility – its doxic, taken-for-granted flow as mysterious to most people as its effects are profound and ubiquitous. Uneven social, political economic, and environmental impacts simultaneously accompany these flows in a global circuitry of energy and trade that is as cultural as it is physical, bringing different, intersecting forms of power into perspective.

Energy flows, then, are at the very foundations of economic provision and therefore provide a compelling lens through which to examine the economic affairs of any society.

We are especially keen on stimulating interdisciplinary engagement with the meeting theme. SEA 2014 is thus planned in conjunction with the SAA meetings in Austin, Texas and we strongly encourage submissions from archaeologists, and other anthropologists, as well as economists, historians and other scholars of the human condition. Texas will provide a particularly relevant backdrop for SEA 2014 given the state’s notable energy resources and significant influence on US and global energy policy. Austin is an especially pleasant setting, with delightful spring weather and a vibrant music scene.

We welcome anthropologically informed and theoretically relevant papers and posters that address (but are certainly not limited to) the following questions: 

Economic Theory: concepts, method, professional practice, interdisciplinary

What fundamental reorientations of theory and method are needed to widen appreciation of humanity’s past, present and future dependence on energy flows? What theories and methodologies are most useful for understanding shifts between energy regimes? What are the most promising ethnographic frontiers for understanding the transition away from the fossil fuel era? How can a long-term perspective incorporating non-industrial societies bolster how we envision energy flows and human-environmental relations?  How might we best think about vulnerability, sustainability and resilience? Should economic anthropologists resume measuring food, fuel and labor in terms related to advances in environmental economics or human ecology? How might renewed attention to energy reunite or reconfigure four-field anthropology?

Production: environmental interfaces, labor, work, social structuring

How can we best categorize diversity in the cultural and material production of energy – from energy used to fuel human labor and the fire used to smelt iron, to the biological, nuclear and solar technologies now being explored? How have prehistoric and more contemporary social groups resisted particular energy regimes even when technological or labor capacities may have allowed them?  What role has energy played in the development and reorganization of societies? How have historical and contemporary energy regimes shaped and been shaped by social and political relations?  What are the physical, social, cultural, political and economic ramifications of extracting, processing and using carbon-intensive fuels and growing renewable electricity?

Exchange: energy, social circuitry, markets, commodification

How has energy affected the ways market and non-market exchange shapes social connection and dislocation? How do we best account for the energy embodied in goods and services exchanged? How are gender, age, kinship, class and other dimensions of social organization related to energy? What are the possibilities for incorporating externalities in market-based efforts to speed energy transitions? What are the impacts when we commodify resources necessary for life? How is money related to energy flow?

Consumption: style, status, decision making

How are habitus, consumption styles, status desires, and imaginaries related to the flow of energy involved in people’s ongoing construction of meaning and identity? How can energy and other resource demand from a growing middle class in BRIC and other countries be understood and accommodated? How might we interpret flat to declining energy use in the OECD/developed countries? What can economic anthropologists contribute to understanding peoples’ use of renewable energy technologies, distributed energy, smart grids, private electricity generation, etc.?

Economic & Energy Transitions: governance, finance, movements and the future

What precedents in the archaeological and historical record could help us understand the economic and social implications of slow vs. sudden shocks in energy supply? What is the minimum net energy surplus needed for societal functioning, and how useful is net energy analysis in our fields? What roles do debt and finance, including bubbles, play in the creation and reproduction of existing and potential energy regimes? How are modes of political and economic governance related to control over past, present and future energies? What is expertise, and how do experts affect the forecasting of possible energy futures? How are war and militaries part of past and future energy transitions? How have/can social movements shape(d) energy cultures?



NOTICE:  Re cutting and pasting your abstract.  The system accepts abstracts up to 500 words, but if you tried to log in before 12 November 2013, you may still find a red “250 word limit” alert when you try to advance to the next page.  To get around this, either use another browser to register, or go into your existing browser, find the “clear cache” setting somewhere under “Tools” or “Settings”, and start over.  We apologize for this extra step.

Abstracts of proposed papers and posters should be no more than 500 words, and should be submitted here, after completing the conference pre-registration here. Abstracts are due no later than DECEMBER 15, 2013.

POSTER PRESENTATIONS The SEA “happy hour” poster session is an inclusive and well-attended event at each annual conference. Papers not accepted for oral presentation are automatically eligible for inclusion in the poster session. Scholars whose work may not fit the central theme of the meeting are encouraged to submit a poster. The SEA always welcomes posters on any topic in economic anthropology.  

MEETING FORMAT The SEA meetings provide a rare opportunity for a focused and coherent program of presentation, with time for critical discussion in a convivial intellectual setting. Papers are selected for a program that allows 15-20 minutes for presentation and 15-20 minutes for discussion in plenary sessions over two days. Papers and posters from the SEA annual will be considered for publication in a special issue of the society’s journal: Economic Anthropology. Submitting a paper for the plenary sessions represents a commitment that you wish to be considered for inclusion in the journal. We encourage archaeologists, cultural anthropologists, economists, and other scholars concerned with the meeting theme to submit abstracts.


Before submitting your abstract go to the AAA website and pre-register for the conference.  Registration is $100 for members, $125 for nonmembers and $70 for students. Please note that refunds can be issued up to one month in advance of the meetings in the case that your abstract is not accepted.

VENUE & REGIONAL ATTRACTIONS Texas is an especially relevant venue for an energy-themed conference as it continues to play a major role in US energy provisioning and policy. Austin provides a particularly pleasant setting within Texas due to its delightful spring weather, proximity to the University of Texas, and a vibrant music scene.

The 2014 meetings will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn Austin, 500 N Interstate 35, Austin, Texas, 78701. This location is a short two blocks from the Convention Center and the concurrent annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The hotel is also within walking distance of many area attractions, music venues and restaurants.  For additional information about tourist attractions, entertainment and dining in Austin, please visit: http://www.austintexas.org/visit/.

ACCOMODATIONS SEA has reserved a block of rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn at a discount rate.  Rooms are $179/night for single or double occupancy.  This room rate is very competitive given the location and quality of the hotel. One of the concessions that the hotel provided with the guestroom rate, is our full breakfast buffet with cook-to-order omelets and waffles each morning, offered on the 18th floor of the hotel with a wonderful panoramic view of the Austin skyline and surrounding hill country.

For reservations click here. 

TRAVEL There are several options for transfers to and from Austin’s Bergstrom Airport, including rental cars, a SuperShuttle, city buses and of course taxis. The least expensive option from the airport is by city bus. The city of Austin’s Capital Metro provides the “100 Airport Flyer”, an express bus from the airport to downtown. The bus picks up on the lower level of the airport near baggage claim. Tickets are purchased on the bus, and airport staff should be available to direct you. There is a stop at 4th and Trinity and again 6th and Trinity that service the Hilton Garden Inn. One way tickets are $1 one-way from the airport to any of these stops, and 24-hour passes are $2.Visit www.capmetro.org/airport/ for more information, or call 512-474-1200.


Thomas Love Dept. of Sociology/Anthropology Linfield College McMinnville, Oregon  97128 tlove@linfield.edu 503-883-2504 fax:  503-883-2635

Cindy Isenhour Department of Anthropology University of Maine Orono, ME 04469 cynthia.isenhour@maine.edu 303.807.6515