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Sublime Electric Worlds @ EASST2018

25 July 2018 - 28 July 2018

Looking forward to returning to Centre for Science Studies, Lancaster University, for EASST 2018 in July, the great bi-annual European STS conference. The theme this year is ‘Meetings – Making Science, Technology and Society together’.

I’m giving a talk ‘We Come to Sublime Electric Worlds’ as part of session A13 ‘Of Other Landscapes’ convened by Endre Dányi and Michaela Spencer, which means it’s going to be a good one. Come and chat with us.

Get in touch if you’re also going and want to meet up!

Presentation Abstract


Sunset over an island sea,
a tide energy turbine
comes out of eclipse,
and the world changes
for me, for many.
That world is in the spaces
between the words.
The encounter, empirical,
infrastructured, electric,
is silent under the skin.
How to write this silence
as empirical method?


I remember rain swirling in the air as I stared at the battered old fishing shed, spray-painted with those iconic letters, accented for a moment by the sweep of a rainbow overhead. The graffiti met everyone who stepped off the ferry onto the islands where I had been studying the energy future. I knew something profound about my ethnographic fieldsite in that moment, but what did I know? It was the same when I stood and watched a tide energy turbine come out of eclipse, high up on a gantry above a sunlit sea, its sign glowing:
Beside me, marine scientists had also watched, and hundreds of industry visitors have since followed, drawn, not just to see, but to feel an energy future. How to write empirically about this encounter between place and person, when the world changes? In these moments naturalcultural, energetic landscape is not ‘out there’ but gets under the skin and makes the blood beat. This presentation will explore STS methods for writing encounters with infrastructured landscapes. It will move from anthropologist Susan Lepselter’s reminder that uncanny stories have an irreducible openness, akin to reading poetry, to a poetic attention to both letters and the space between them. Might we write our worlds as much in space, shape, and absence, as in letters, and come to make a method for writing the uncanny, and the sublime, unspeakable moments that make our electric worlds.

Session Details

A13 Of Other Landscapes

Saturday 28 July 2018. starting at 09:30 (2 sessions)

Bowland North Seminar Room 6


25 July 2018
28 July 2018


Lancaster University
Bailrigg Campus
Lancaster, United Kingdom