In this episode, Dr. Sandy Smith-Nonini interviews Dr. Tom Love, professor emeritus at Linfield College. Dr. Love discusses why energy is so important in studies of the climate transition, and why the field of anthropology is well-suited to the study of energy in terms of the field’s history and premise. Economic anthropologists, in particular, are well positioned to explore the inter-disciplinarity of energy and the economy. Sandy also drew on Tom’s past explorations of peak oil and more recently his involvement with colleagues in ongoing work in net energy (Energy Returned on Energy Invested) to interrogate why these debates remain highly relevant to the climate transition. Finally, Sandy talked with her guest about his most recent work as a co-founder and developer with other colleagues of the Planetary Limits Academic Network (PLAN) website – which is providing a forum for these discussions and for public scholarship.

Guest Bio: Tom is emeritus professor of anthropology at Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon. He co-edited the Cultures of Energy reader with Sarah Strauss and Stephanie Rupp (Left Coast Press, 2013, 2016) and authored The Independent Republic of Arequipa (University of Texas Press, 2017). He co-edited with Cindy Isenhour a 2016 issue of Economic Anthropology on “Energy and Economy.” Tom has done field research on solar energy in rural Peru. He is a founding organizer with other scholars of PLAN –the Planetary Limits Academic Network website:

Music: Borough by Molerider at Blue Dot Sessions (


Campbell, C. and J. Laherrere. (1998). “The End of Cheap Oil,” Scientific American, Vol. 278, No. 3, 78- 83.

Graeber, D. and D. Wengrow. (2021). The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Hornborg, Alf. (2016). Global Magic: Technologies of Appropriation from Ancient Rome to Wal Street. Palgrave.

_____ & C. Isenhour. (2016). Energy and Economy: Re-cognizing High Energy Modernity as an Historical Period. In Love & Isenhour, eds., Economic Anthropology, 3:1 “Energy and Economy.”

_____ & D. Murphy (2016). Implications of Net Energy for the Food-Energy-Water Nexus; An NSF-funded workshop, Linfield College, 14-16 January.

Mitchell, T. (2011). Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. Verso.

Strauss, S., S. Rupp and T. Love, eds. (2013/2016) Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies. London: Routledge.

Murphy, D.J.; et. al. (2022). Energy Return on Investment of Major Energy Carriers. Sustainability, 14, 7098.

Wilhite, H. (2013/2016). Energy Consumption as Cultural Practice. In Strauss, S., S. Rupp and T. Love, eds. Cultures of Energy: Power, Practices, Technologies. London: Routledge.

Wilk, R. and Cliggitt, L. (2007/2008). Economy and Cultures, 2nd Ed. Taylor and Francis.

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Mergers & Acquisitions
Mergers & Acquisitions
Society for Economic Anthropology (SEA)

SEA’s podcast, Mergers and Acquisitions demonstrates how anthropological and other perspectives can enhance and complicate understandings of economic life and contemporary events. Mergers and Acquisitions hosts interviews with leading economic anthropologists, provides reflection pieces on economic transformations and problems, and serves as a vehicle for new and established scholars to connect with each other. Recognizing that the best ideas and insights are rarely generated alone, Mergers and Acquisitions offers a collective mind-hive for furthering the study of economic life.