In my PhD project, I am focusing on the Kenyan community of geothermal experts, their perceptions and how knowledge travels with them. Kenya is a regional leader of geothermal energy, currently focusing on unlocking its full geothermal potential to further stabilize electricity supply. Since geothermal energy is a relatively small portion of the global energy mix, the community is transnational and tight knit. Iceland, a global leader in geothermal energy, has been offering trainings to international professionals since 1979. Kenyan experts have been attending trainings in Iceland for the past 40 years, getting inspired by developing projects and building connections with Icelandic experts. I am interested in these epistemic mobilities and how visions of the future travel and get adapted through these networks. I was lucky to be allowed to follow the Geothermal Training Programme under the auspices of UNESCO (GRÓ GTP) in Iceland for a couple of weeks.
Geothermal manifestations observed by the GRÓ GTP 2022 Fellows, Reykjanes, Iceland
GRÓ GTP 2022 Fellows in an excursion in a carbon capture and storage system in Iceland
In November, I will then travel to Kenya to see how their acquired geothermal knowledge is translated to a Kenyan context and how the experts frame their work. Thereby, I am following Laura Nader to “the culture of power rather than the culture of the powerless“ (Nader, 1972: 289).
A well head of a reinjection well used to store carbon dioxide extracted from both the geothermal operation and atmosphere
Furthermore, I am particularly interested in women experts. Since energy poverty and the use of charcoal or similar sources of heat in the home is more likely to effect women and since women are regarded as “major actors driving sustainable development” (Gissi et al., 2018: 215), there is a strong need for female insight on shaping the energy transition. Classic sociological and anthropological research shows that “the culture of energy experts” (Nader, 2004: 775) is male dominated and sets clear boundaries for creativity. I would like to find out how this has changed in recent years and if there is a particular female way of thinking about energies.
Gissi E, Portman ME and Hornidge AK (2018) Un-gendering the ocean: Why women matter in ocean governance for sustainability. Marine Policy 94: 215-219.
Nader L (1972) Up the anthropologist: Perspectives gained from studying up.
Nader L (2004) Social Thought & Commentary: The Harder Path: Shifting Gears. Anthropological Quarterly 77(4): 771-791.
Images courtesy of Julia Wummel and the 2022 GTP fellows.