Extractive Pasts, Sustainable Futures?

Call for Participants

As one of the largest post-extractivist lignite mining sites in Europe, Lusatia – a region in the borderlands of Germany, Poland, and Czech Republic – is paradigmatic for the cultural, ecological, and political complexities of energy transition. Because much of its economy and sociocultural life clustered around the mining business, the steady phasing out of fossil fuels creates a vacuum that is being filled with new imaginaries for environmental and social change. Renaturated landscapes that preserve cultural and natural heritages, mining pits turned lakes to boost tourism, green hydrogen production at scale to form Germany’s clean energy hub – Lusatia is rife with competing and overlapping visions for a future that has yet to materialize. The research studio will investigate this tipping point – from vision to materialization – by exploring the premises and promises of Lusatia’s energy transition, the actors that shape its technological development, and the environmental and social conditions and repercussions of possible future infrastructures. At this crucial point in time we want to ask: How do imaginaries of the energy transition shape our present and how can we engage with and intervene in these imaginaries through our scholarly and artistic practice?

The interdisciplinary research studio Extractive Pasts, Sustainable Futures? targets early-career researchers and practitioners interested in post-mining landscapes and the development of renewable energy infrastructures. The program is explicitly inter- and transdisciplinary aimed at fostering exchange between social sciences, humanities, architecture, engineering, art, and design. Thinking through energy transition by exploring its material sites takes seriously the uneasy and ambiguous emplacements of energy. The shifting constellations of power and the imaginations continuously intersecting with socio-technical infrastructures warrant a multifaceted approach.

Over the course of one week split between multiple sites in Lusatia as well as in and around Dresden we will collect, discuss, and create vocabularies, concepts, narratives, maps, drawings, diagrams, and other visual and textual outputs that might help us grasp what is at stake in the energy transition (in Lusatia and beyond). The research studio will cover multiple guided tours in the region to learn about its energy histories and futures, visits to leading clean energy start-ups in Dresden, lectures from experts in the field of socioecological transformation and energy humanities, as well as performances by local artists and hands-on workshops for mapping and translating research findings into a joint adhoc publication. Participants of the research studio are encouraged to expand their stay in Dresden and attend the STS conference Leakage at TU Dresden (March 19-22, 2024) where the publication will be launched.

In order to participate in the research studio, please send us your CV, portfolio (if applicable) and a short motivation letter (one page) elaborating on your background, research interests and connection to the theme of Extractive Pasts, Sustainable Futures? Documents should be submitted in one PDF file (5MB max) no later than 15.12.23 to michaela.buesse@tu-dresden.de