Nicola Labanca

Seminar: Energy transitions in the age of complex systems: understanding current energy transitions through an historical enquiry on instrumentality.  

Wednesday 13th July 16.00-18.00, D72/MR11 FASS, Lancaster University -All Welcome

The seminar will propose discussing current energy transitions in the light of the insights offered by an historical enquiry on instrumentality. The proposed approach allows interpreting the present age of complex systems as the result of some fundamental transformations concerning how the conception of human artefacts commonly known as instruments has evolved since the XIIth century. These transformations can be characterised in terms of a progressive process of disembodiment and abstraction whereby, among other things, the notions of energy, time and information have been changed into quantifiable resource units regulating all activities and functions reproduced by people and any other biological entity. The proposed account will offer, on the one hand, the possibility to critically discuss how these notions are informing the current transition to renewable energies and mainstream research fields on energy sustainability. On the other hand, it will allow illustrating a) how energy and information have nowadays to be considered as central metaphors around which complex systems are being socially constructed and b) how complex systems tend to generate a process of dis-embedding whereby they escape social control while reinforcing a perception of resources scarcity.

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