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Call for Papers, Panels and/or Workshop Proposals

Petrocultures: Oil, Energy, Culture

University of Alberta: September 6, 7th and 8th, 2012


The “Petrocultures: Oil, Energy, Culture” conference will take place on September 6, 7th and 8th, 2012, at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada).  Keynote speakers include Allan Stoekl (Penn State University), Warren Cariou (University of Manitoba) and Ursula Biemann (video artist, Switzerland). 

Petrocultures will bring together scholars, writers, filmmakers and artists from around the world who are engaged in an exploration of the social and cultural dimensions and impacts of oil and energy.  The conference will examine and (re)assess how energy has been and remains an intrinsic part of socio-political life and cultural productivity, with a focus on two areas of research:

1)  How does our understanding of socio-cultural objects, events and phenomena change if we frame an analysis of them explicitly in relation to oil (and energy more generally)? What insights would we gain across the disciplines from such a theoretical/methodological maneuver? For instance, what might happen if we frame cultural and intellectual periods (as we do in the study of literature) not in terms of movements (e.g., modernism), nations (British modernism), or centuries (18th, 19th, 20th…), but in relation to dominant forms of energy at any given moment?

2)  How do energy resources that fuel the exploitation of the environment impact not only everyday life but also the form and content of its representation? What is the potential of these cultural representations produced through multiple technologies of publication and artistic/communicative production (e.g., art, film, literature), to rupture and/or change the ways in which we live with and relate to oil? 


We invite papers, panels and workshop proposals that take up the above questions as well as contributions that address any of the wide range of topics related to petrocultures:


● labour in petrocultures (influx of temporary foreign workers, transient labour forces, the rights or lack thereof of labour, etc.)

● the composition of communities in historical and contemporary oil economies

● education in energy societies

● health (sex, drugs, addiction)

● the intersection of cultural and environmental issues (resource management, water and oil, etc.)

● Aboriginal cultures and societies (land and mineral rights, community safety, race in petrocultures, etc.)

● gender issues and women’s rights in male dominated labour markets

● politics and social-political life in petro-states

● and the impacts of all of these issues on forms of cultural production (art, literature, film, etc.) that attempt to represent and address the socio-cultural realities of living alongside oil technologies.  


Papers will be accepted based on the merit of the proposed study, originality of approach, and fit with the aims and theme of the conference.  Graduate students are especially encouraged to apply. Please indicate when you submit your abstract whether you are interested in also participating (at your own cost) in a three day excursion on (September 9th- 11th) to Northern Alberta to tour the oil/tar sands. A selection of papers and presentations from the 2012 conference will be published in an edited collection on Petrocultures by McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Deadline for submission: October 15, 2011.  Decisions will be announced by December 1st, 2011.  

Please send all proposals to: (c/o Imre Szeman and Sheena Wilson)


Types of submissions:

· 15-20 minute individual presentation: conference paper.

· 45-60 minute panel/roundtable (3-4 presenters).

· 90-minute workshop (hands-on learning, interactive): Interactive sessions that encourage participant involvement. 


These workshops can be focused on generating discussion and recording ideas on specific subjects and themes.  These workshops can also encourage creative responses to oil and energy (e.g., through a writing workshop, a visual arts workshop etc.)

Propose an individual paper: Please send a 250 word abstract and a 100 word biography, as well as your contact information

Propose a panel: Please send a 250 word abstract for the panel, with a descriptive title for each presentation, and a 50 word bio and contact information for all members of the panel. When submitting the proposal, please copy it to all panel-participants to facilitate future correspondences. 

Propose a workshop: The Petrocultures conference will be the ideal venue for exploring theoretical and practical approaches to oil and energy in culture.  If you would like to lead a workshop session either independently or with other presenters, please submit a 250 word abstract for the workshop, with a 100 word bio for all workshop leaders.

Petrocultures is supported through funding from the Kule Institute for Advanced Study (UniversityofAlberta), Campus Saint Jean (UniversityofAlberta) and the Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies.


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National Demonstration

Saturday 20th November 12 noon

Speakers’ Corner to rally in Trafalgar Square, London

As a NATO Summit gathers in Lisbon, Portugal to discuss a new Strategic Concept, we will be gathering in central London to call for an end to NATO’s occupation of Afghanistan. With Afghan civilian deaths increasing, as well as British military casualties, the war is increasingly unpopular in NATO states, including Britain.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND)

Join us to send a strong message to the summit and to the government here in London.

For more info or to help by volunteering at the demo see the CND website.


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Radical Politics


Please see below for details of FIVE forthcoming Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space activities:-

A one-day workshop organised by Chantal Mouffe (node director), The Westminster Centre for the Study of Democracy, and Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, The Westminster International Law & Theory Centre.

Keynote Addresses: David Harvey AND Doreen Massey

Mustafa Dikec, Engin Isin, Ruth Levitas, Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, David Slater

19th November 2010, 10-6pm, The Pavilion, University of Westminster, 115 New Cavendish Street, London W1W 7UW

Admission free but places limited. Please contact Andrea Pavoni at to reserve your seat.

2] During 2009-2011, the new Rutgers University node has organized an extensive university-wide series of nearly two hundred lectures, colloquia, panel discussions, and other events exploring the theme of “Ecologies in the Balance.”
For the current academic year 2010-2011, they have designated eight specific events to inaugurate the Spaces of Democracy initiative at Rutgers.
These are as follows:

Sept 27 Steve Lerner, Research Director, Commonweal
“Sacrifice Zones: The Front Lines of Toxic Chemical Exposure in the US”

Oct 26 Etienne Balibar, Paris X-Nanterre, University of California-Irvine
“Europe: the Final Crisis?

Oct 27 Matthew Jelacic, Architecture, University of Colorado
“Traumatic Urbanization and its Consequences”

Oct 29 Carolyn Finney, Geography, University of California-Berkeley
“There Goes the Neighborhood: Race, Resilience and Environmental Change”

Nov 19 Mazen Labban, Geography, University of Miami
“State, Class, and Oil: Sovereignty Over Natural Resources, Nationalization, and Economic Development in Mexico, 1920-2000”

Feb 9 Ananya Roy, City and Regional Planning, University of California-Berkeley
“The Urban Century: Ecologies and Epistemologies of Dwelling in the Global South”

Feb 23 Daniel Nepstad, Woods Hole Research Institute
“Can Carbon Carry the Global Conservation Agenda?”

March 23 Sharyle Patton, Health and Environment Program, Commonweal
“Our Body Burden of Toxic Chemicals: Implications for Chemical Policy Reform”

For details contact the new Rutgers node Directors: Joanna Regulska and Robert Lake

Joanna Regulska
Professor of Women’s Studies and Geography
Dean of International Programs
School of Arts and Sciences
Rutgers University
77 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 USA
tel 1-732-932-2699 ext 159
fax 1-732-932-1226

Robert W. Lake
Professor and Graduate Director
Director of the Doctoral Program
Bloustein School of Planning & Public Policy
Rutgers University
33 Livingston Avenue, Suite 400
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 USA
tel 1-732-932-3133 ext 521
fax 1-732-932-2363>

3] ANANYA ROY ON POVERTY, DEMOCRACY AND PUBLIC SCHOLARSHIP: A micro-seminar on the research and activism of ANANYA ROY

(organised by Katharyne Mitchell (node Director University of Washington) and Victoria Lawson at University of Washington).

This includes a public lecture by Ananya Roy: Monday, Oct 11, 6:00pm, Kane Hall; a preliminary seminar on Friday, Oct 8, 2:30 – 5:20pm,

CMU 202 and a concluding seminar on Tuesday, Oct 12, 3:30 – 5:20pm, CMU 202 where there will be a discussion of intersections between public lecture,

Roy’s publications and her public activism and scholarship.

4] CALL FOR PAPERS!!! – Building states and civil societies in Africa: Liberal interventions and global governmentality

Many African states have been subject to donor programmes that place great emphasis on the participation of national and international civil society actors in the formation and implementation of development policy.

Donor policy suggests that the post-Cold War form of civil society is both autonomous from the post-colonial African state, as well as fundamental to the development of responsible liberal democratic states in Africa.

However, a number of studies have documented the emergence of non-state actors that may provide some form of institutional stability but challenge the clear-cut distinction between state and civil society.

Examples include religious organisations, so-called social movements and informal associational practices. This workshop takes as its starting point critical, postcolonial and governmentally derived insights on the limitations of the public/private, state/society, and domestic/international binaries for comprehending African politics and governance.

The aim is to bring together a wide, and sometimes disparate body of research on state-formation and civil society in a post-development context, and to ask whether civil society remains a meaningful term in attempting to understand social, political and economic practices in African societies.

This workshop has been kindly sponsored by the Journal for Intervention and State Building, and the African Studies Association UK.

Papers presented at the workshop will be considered for a special issue of the journal due to be published in 2011/12.

Participants are requested to produce a paper of 7-8,000 words, with Harvard referencing, a month prior to the workshop, and undertake to read and act as a discussant for one other paper, to a facilitate a close engagement with the research presented, and to allow time for 10  papers to be discussed.

Please submit an abstract of 200 words to: Clive Gabay or Carl Death by 15 November 2010, with your institutional affiliation.

5] The book WHAT IS RADICAL POLITICS TODAY? (2009) Palgrave-MacMillan, edited by Jonathan Pugh, Newcastle University, is now available for £10 on Amazon.

Including original contributions from Zygmunt Bauman, Will Hutton, Frank Furedi, Clare Short, Ken Worpole, Nick Cohen, Hilary Wainwright, Paul Kingsnorth, Chantal Mouffe, Terrell Carver, Edward W. Soja, David Chandler, Dora Apel, Doreen Massey, Jason Toynbee, James Martin, Michael J. Watts, Jeremy Gilbert and Jo Littler, Gregor McLennan, Tariq Modood, Amir Saeed & David Bates, Alastair Bonnett, Nigel Thrift, Sheila Jasanoff, Saul Newman, David Featherstone, James Heartfield, Alejandro Colás and Jason Edwards, David Boyle, Saskia Sassen.
“Provocative, authoritative and timely …” (New Statesman)


For “The Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space” network website:

For Radical Politics Today magazine:

For more on the book What is radical politics today?, published in 2009 by Palgrave MacMillan:

Jonathan Pugh
Senior Academic Fellow
Director “The Spaces of Democracy and the Democracy of Space” network
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology
5th Floor Daysh Building
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne
United Kingdom
Honorary Fellow, The Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster

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Raya Dunayevskaya


The Jul-Aug 2010 issue of News & Letters is now available online:—

Lead: BP’s Gulf oil spill lays waste to workers, environment The April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and setting off a colossal oil spill, brought to the fore the contradictions rife in state-capitalism…. 

Editorial: U.S’s endless Afghan war The war in Afghanistan will soon drag on into its tenth year, even as disgust with the war’s conduct has widened–yet Afghanistan is not at the center of public debate.

The new white supremacist United States: The heavily armed neo-Nazis “patrolling” the border between Arizona and Mexico, manhandling and threatening who they will, are a measure of the U.S.’s fall into the abyss. At no time since the Civil Rights era has open racism been so accepted in the public life of this country.

From the Writings of Raya Dunayevskaya: Recollections of Leon Trotsky
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the August 21, 1940, assassination of Leon Trotsky by an agent of Stalin, we present Dunayevskaya’s “Some Memories of Trotsky,” written in 1965 while visiting Japan.

● Essay by Gloria I. Joseph: Race, class, gender and revolution
● U.S. get out of Okinawa now!
● “Workshop Talks: Battle line over safety”
● “Woman as Reason: Fighting 50 years after the pill”

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 A commission for four British trades unions argues the case for the immediate creation of a million new jobs all of which reduce green house gases – and urge the British government to create a national climate service:


Several trade unions and many climate activists in Britain have decided to fight to make the government create one million green climate jobs immediately. This short report from the Campaign against Climate Change explains how we can do that and why we must.

At some point gradual climate change is going to turn into runaway catastrophe. We may well hit that point in the next twenty years. To avoid doing so, we need drastic cuts in the amount of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases we put into the air.

This will mean government regulation and international agreements. It will also take a lot of work – jobs. We have to produce wind, wave, tide and solar power. We have to renovate and insulate our homes and buildings. And we have to provide a network of cheap buses and trains.

There are two and a half million unemployed people in Britain. By next year there are likely to be three million or more. It is possible that the economy will have started to ‘recover’ by 2010. But recovery only means that profits and sales begin to rise. Unemployment will grow for a time after ‘recovery’ begins, and may stay high for a very long time.

We have people who need jobs and work that must be done. A million climate jobs in the UK will not solve all the economy’s problems. But it will take a million human beings off the dole and put them to work saving the future.

We cannot halt climate change by action only in the UK. But if we act, people all over the world will know, and take hope and courage to act themselves.

Who are we?

In the spring of 2009 the trade union group of the Campaign against Climate Change organised a conference of 200 union activists. That conference decided to start a serious fight for green climate jobs. We set up a working commission to draw up detailed plans. That commission has people from the campaign, from several UK unions, from non-governmental organisations and many academic experts. It is preparing a longer report with more detailed calculations of how many jobs will be needed in each sector and how much they will cut emissions.

But we are bringing out this booklet now, because we want unions to start fighting for a million jobs right away.

The main kinds of new jobs we need:

* Producing alternative energy,

* Insulating and renovating buildings and making better appliances

* Public transport on trains and buses

* Manufacturing

* Educating and training the new workers. 

Section 1 – What are climate jobs?
Climate jobs are jobs that reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we put into the air. Greenhouse gases cause global warming. This preliminary report will concentrate on the most important gas, carbon dioxide (CO2). We are emitting CO2 into the atmosphere by burning coal, oil and gas – these are called CO2 ’emissions’. We need to cut CO2 emissions as fast and as deeply as possible, especially in developed countries like the UK. Here we should be looking at cuts of around 75% to 80%. That means burning only 20% of the coal, oil and gas we do now. (For the reasons why, see section 3).

We can do that. But it will take a lot of work. If we can cut our energy use in half and supply half of that from alternative energy, we can cut CO2 emissions by 75%. We will need at least a million new climate jobs to do that. When we say a million climate jobs, we mean something rather different from what the politicians mean when they talk about ‘green jobs’.

We mean climate jobs, not ‘green jobs’. Climate jobs are jobs that cut down the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the air and thus slow down climate change. ‘Green jobs’ can mean anything – jobs in the water industry, national parks, landscaping, bird sanctuaries, pollution control, flood control and many more things. All these jobs are necessary. But they do not affect global warming.

We want a million new jobs, not ones people are already doing. We don’t want to add up existing and new jobs and say that we now have a million climate jobs. We don’t mean jobs with a climate connection, or a climate aspect. We don’t want old jobs with new names, or ones with ‘sustainable’ in the job title. And we don’t mean ‘carbon finance’ jobs.

We want the government to employ a million workers. That means we want the government to start employing 83,300 workers a month and to have employed one million within twelve months. This is a new idea. Up to now, government policy has been to use subsidies and tax breaks to encourage private industry to invest in renewable energy. They also plan to give people grants or loans for part of the cost of renovating their homes. Their idea is to encourage the market.

We want something more like the way the government used to run the National Health Service. In effect, the government sets up a National Climate Service and the new NCS employs staff to do the work that needs to be done. That way we can be sure it is done. Given what the scientists are telling us, we need to be sure.

Most of us in the trade union group would like to see almost all of these workers employed by central or local government. We are aware this may not be politically possible, and part of the work will probably be done by contractors. But we want the government to control the project – so that we all know they are making sure it happens – and not simply rely on the market. And we want jobs with proper wages, pensions and trade union rights. A million new climate jobs will also create hundreds of thousands of other new jobs. This always happens with new investment. New jobs are created with suppliers. For example, the new National Climate Service may run the wind turbine factory. But that factory will buy steel, wood, aluminium, electricity, brooms and tea, and the people who make and transport those things will also have jobs.

New jobs are also created because a million new workers with wages spend more money than they did on the dole. Somebody has to make the goods and services they buy. Those people have new jobs too. And so do the people who make the things they buy, and the new materials their companies buy. But some people will lose their jobs. If there is a massive expansion in renewable energy, some of the jobs in the old energy economy will go. By no means all and it won’t happen quickly, but it will happen.

In the same way, a massive shift to public transport would create jobs driving buses, making buses, and making electric cars. But there would be fewer jobs making petrol and diesel cars. Many more jobs will be created than lost. It takes many more workers to run buses and trains than it does to build cars for the same number of passengers. For a given amount of energy, it takes more workers to build and operate alternative energy than it does to build and operate gas or coal fired power stations. And jobs renovating homes and buildings do not put anyone out of work.

We will have to protect people who lose their jobs because of the new climate economy. This is easy if the government employs the new climate workers. The government simply guarantees new jobs to these workers and provides training if needed.

Communities dependent on fossil fuel industries must also be supported economically and financially to help transform the local economy and improve community well-being. Moreover, enough of the new jobs in the climate economy must go to the communities most affected. This is not only a matter of social justice. If we don’t guarantee jobs in this way, different groups of workers will be in conflict. There are powerful forces in society, like the oil companies, who do not want a new climate economy. They will use those divisions between workers to make sure nothing is done. So the new Climate Service will employ a million direct workers, but create about one and a half million jobs in all. This is a rough estimate. The government will be employing 1,000,000 workers directly. Examples from other industries suggest that these million workers will create approximately another 850,000 jobs in related industries and increased spending in local economies. On the other hand, some jobs will also be lost. We cannot yet be precise about these numbers, but something like 350,000 is probably not that far out. This gives us a net gain of 1,500,000 workers.

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Economy and Society Guest Lecture 2009

“The Government of Uncertainty: How to Follow the Politics of Oil”

Professor Timothy Mitchell, Columbia University, New York, 6.30pm – 8.00pm, Thursday 15th October 2009

Sheikh Zayed Lecture Theatre, London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

Please RSVP to

Professor Timothy Mitchell
Timothy Mitchell is professor in the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He is the author of Colonising Egypt (1991) and Rules of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (2002).

Mitchell has published articles in numerous publications including; American Political Science Review; Comparative Studies in Society and History; Theory and Society; and International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies

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The Geopolitics of Global Energy: International Competition, Rivalry and Conflict

The Geopolitics of Global Energy: International Competition, Rivalry and Conflict
An International Workshop on 28-29 May 2009, Birkbeck College, University of London

For further information and free registration please contact:


In recent years questions surrounding energy security have become the focus of international security and global politics. A number of issues have been central to these debates:

    • The impact of high energy prices on economic development and 
political stability within states
    • The dependence of industrialised states on sources of energy from 
unstable geopolitical zones
    • The role of states in securing access to and control of energy 
    • The relationship between commercial energy producers and 
distributors to governments
    • The geopolitical consequences of the increased leverage of energy 
producing states
    • The international political and geopolitical consequences of the 
competition amongst states to secure access to and control of energy resources

This workshop brings together a number of international specialists on energy security and geopolitics in order to shed further theoretical and empirical light on contemporary resource competition and rivalry, especially – though not exclusively – between the West and its Eurasian contenders. In particular the workshop will compare and contrast the strategies and policies of states in the Europe, the Americas, East Asia and Africa, as both producers and consumers of energy. It seeks, additionally, to explore with greater rigour and precision the meaning and purchase of the ‘geopolitical’ turn in contemporary international studies.




Mark BASSIN, University of Birmingham – ‘Energy and the Geopolitics of Russian Neo-Imperialism’

Cyrus BINA, University of Minnesota, USA – ‘Oil: The Geopolitics of Energy in the Epoch of Globalization’

Klaus DODDS, Royal Holloway, University of London – ‘The Arctic in the Global Imagination: Geopolitics, Resources, and Environment’

Dominick JENKINS, formerly of Greenpeace, London – ‘Churchill, Oil and the Royal Navy’

Ray KIELY, Queen Mary, University of London – ‘Theories of Imperialism, Contemporary Geopolitics and the Rise of China’

Kees VAN DER PIJL, University of Sussex – ‘The West, Georgia and Russia-Rearticulating Politics and Economics’

Gonzalo POZO-MARTIN, School of Slavonic and East-European Studies, University of London – ‘Inflammable Politics: Russia, Ukraine and NATO Enlargement’

Sam RAPHAEL, University of Kingston – ‘US Empire and the Control of Oil: Lessons from the Caspian Basin’

Doug STOKES, Senior Lecturer in International Relations, University of Kent – ‘Unpacking the Logics of the US Global Oil Order’

Javier VADELL, Catholic University, Belo Horizonte, Minais Gerais, Brazil – ‘The Chinese Economic Penetration of South America and the US Response’

Paris YEROS, Catholic University, Belo Horizonte, Minais Gerais, Brazil – ‘Emergent (Sub) Imperialisms: The New Scramblers for Africa’s Energy and Minerals’


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