WE ARE ALL AWAKE; WE JUST DO NOT KNOW IT
The vitality and simplicity of these words, expressed by Professor Manulani-Aluli Meyer at the first Indigenous Environmental Studies and Sciences conference (late April 2016), re-ignited a passionate call for revolution. At the evening keynote address, the audience was reminded to always build relationships of the highest degree. To put it another way, it is quite common to relate to each other with money; income; a marginal rate of the labour production. This form of relation is deeply alienating, as many of us unquestionably contend. Rather, we should search for the most complex sets of relationships, namely Love. It is rhetorical and ambiguous, yet it is indeed a most powerful word that inspires and connects us through infinite ways of being and living, rather than reducing our beautiful selves to competitive and exploitative subjects. In that manner, through the development of future energy and governance systems we should also, as professor Andreas Malm author of Fossil Capital posit, study and disrupt rooted and imbedded inequalities—from the early industrial generation of steam power, coal power and to the fossil fuel industry, nowadays—of the century old fossil economy. It is thus critical to examine how humans use energy to reproduce themselves, as well as relate to each other and to life altogether. It is especially important considering the present Anthropocene era, characterized by unequal distribution of harm and destruction resulting from oppressive, dispossessive systems of energy production and distribution.
During the E4A 2016 summer field course in Montréal, graduate students will be studying several challenging questions relating to energy and its alternative futures. This short contribution is my personal way of acknowledging the impactful work that the Energy Cohort will produce, and the important knowledge that will undoubtedly arise from these inspiring people and their great bonfires of determination. We are thus motivated and moved to take the Leap!
Here, I want to introduce a concept collectively generated and formed by a multitude of empowering influences.
Depower: An intersectional conversation about energy futurity. To disrupt the webs of racism, sexism, colonialism, and ableism intersecting our energy imaginaries, visions, and projects, preventing the inexorable blossoming of just and complex relationships.
There is always that one question about energy that arises every time. Is the transition to renewable energy solely based on fossil and carbon intensive energy production? If so, how can this transition be radicalized to ensure the path is guided and organized by the least heard voices in society? I believe we are absolutely required to ensure that the transition is post-fossil, post-capitalist, decolonial, anti-racist and transfeminist. Energy should connect us and equally distribute power to all communities, households and ourselves. Depower argues that without intersectional conversations, energy futurity is a reproduction of present institutions wishing to deregulate market mechanisms, commodifying and controlling the energy sector. In other words, the production of surplus energy—that is power—created and expanded by intersectional ties of oppression. Rather, Depower seeks to redefine energy production, distribution, and consumption in ways that meet the basic and critical needs to build intersectional and non-oppressive relationships. I imagine energy systems that respect and enliven our relationships to the land, waters, more than humans and between ourselves. I imagine energy systems requiring nations to nations relationships based on reciprocity, and free, prior and informed consent. To depower is to continuously seek the best alternative that lives up to the highest degree of energy possibilities. It is a futurity that does not resign to a specific vision, but to a perpetual revolutionary one. To Depower is to love. To love is to restrict energy accumulation—to restrict the hoarding of life—otherwise resulting in power centralization, enabling and normalizing exploitation. To love is to ensure all we have does not take away from others, from who we should be.
what does Energy?
homes, heated by energy
movement, generated by energy
food, produced by energy
what does Power?
mansions, heated by power
jet planes, generated by power
migrant work agricultural production, produced by power
James Arruda, E4A graduate student
The Depower Collective is a new group comprised of amazing people who wish to ignite and gather the imagination of Canadians with regards to energy programs across the land. Our draft objective is:
To redirect the present national conversation about energy (i.e. generation and distribution) away from anthropocentric and Settler-centred discourses, towards a discussion of treaty responsibilities, and the realities of present-day forms of colonialism and environmental racism. We envision an energy futurity that involves alternative and progressive relationships with the land, the waters, the air, the more-than-humans (i.e. animals and spirits), and between Settlers and Indigenous people.