Emerging Energo-Geographies and Political Mobilizations in the framework of the Green Transition: An Anthropological Approach

Principal researcher: Ruy Llera Blanes

Research group: Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography


Environment | Social Movements | Extractivism | Energy Transition

Funding Institution

Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia


Instituições de colaboração: Instituto Superior de Ciências de Educação da Huila e Kaleidoscópio – Research in Public Policy and Culture



Start date


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In the framework of the current global debates regarding climate change, sustainability and energetic transition, the shi from a carbon-based to a green energy industry seems inevitable. While calls and resolutions towards ending fossil fuels slowly and irregularly make their way into the global diplomacy (e.g., COP26), the shi towards the electrification and digitalization of industrial, communication and transport sectors is creating an increasing global dependency on the extraction and processing of new resources. This is the case, for instance, of lithium (oen dubbed the ‘oil of the future’) and graphite, essential components for the manufacture of batteries for cell phones, computers and electric cars, for instance. At the same time, ‘clean technologies’ such as green hydrogen, liquefied natural gas or renewables are presented as safe paths towards decarbonization and reduction of GHGs However, the study of the social, political and environmental consequences of the transition is still incipient.
Such transformations, while they are generally positive steps towards energy sustainability and climate change adaptation, are generating new industrial sites, new complex economic relations and political mobilizations with socio-environmental consequences that need to be charted and studied from a social scientific perspective. We are talking specifically about environmental impacts of the new energy industry, its material and infrastructural articulations, conflicts over land property and use, political (public-private) articulations, labor and commercial opportunities, etc. In this framework, a new, energy-related geography is unfolding, complexifying the traditional cartographies of power based on North-South, postcolonial distinctions. This illustrates the increasing political centrality of such industries, both in terms of transnational diplomacies – the role of Nord Stream pipelines in the current Russia-Ukraine conflict being a case in point – and of creating new conflict zones due to the social and environmental impacts of the industry in local populations, as well as the unequal distribution and access to energy. It also explains the growing attention on behalf of climate change activism – from environmental justice movements to Fridays for Future and Extinction Rebellion – regarding the environmental consequences of the emerging energy economy.
This project is therefore an invitation to deepen the study of socio-political consequences of the new global sites of the energy industry, by focusing on current cases of installation and development of energy industries in the framework of the Green Transition. We ask the following questions: What are the local environmental impacts of the ‘green energy’ economy? What kind of spatio-territorial redistributions are emerging as a result of the energetic transition? What are the infrastructural and material unfoldings of such industries? What are the consequences at the local level in terms of land rights and use? What kind of economic and livelihood developments are these processes entailing at the ground level? What kind of political mobilizations are emerging in response, for instance in terms of energy and environmental justice?
In response, we propose the concept of ‘Energo-Geographies’ as a framework for tackling the complexity of territorial, material, economic and political articulations of the global energy industries. We believe this will imply a significant contribution in the anthropological and sociological studies of energy, through an innovative socio-spatial analysis of energy systems as infrastructures. We congregate a team of anthropologists with accumulated expertise on research in socio-environmental issues in Southern Europe and Africa, and propose to research empirical case studies in Portugal, Spain, Italy, Mauritania, Angola and Mozambique, where we will develop in-depth accounts of different energetic resources – from graphite, lithium and green hydrogen to solar and other renewables. We also have significant experience in long-term ethnographic research methods, which we believe are the best equipped to approach the infrastructural complexity and local consequences of the emerging green energy industry.
Our goal is to provide a systematic, in-depth description and analysis of the new geographies and infrastructures of the energy transition, beyond the more traditional sites; to advance scientific knowledge in the anthropology and social sciences of environment, infrastructures and energy, with the conceptual contribution of "energo-geography"; and to provide insights for the formulation of public policies that allow for a fairer and more just transition in the framework of the Agenda 2030 and global commitments towards a sustainable future.


Full members

Antonio Maria Pusceddu

Governance, Policies and Livelihoods

Full members

Antónia Pedroso de Lima

Governance, Policies and Livelihoods

Euclides Gonçalves (Kaleidoscópio – Research in Public Policy and Culture)

PhD students Full members

Felipe Campos-Mardones

Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography

Full members

Francisco Freire

Circulation and Place-Making

Helder Pedro Alicerces Bahu (Instituto Superior de Ciências de Educação da Huila)

Full members

Luís Silva

Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography

Full members

Paulo Mendes

Environment, Sustainability and Ethnography