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Infrastructure Risk and Biography of Artefacts: Multiple Dynamics and Temporalities

This seminar has been rescheduled and will be held on Tuesday April 17th. 


Energy risk and security have become topical matters in Western and international policy discussions; ranging from international climate change mitigation to investment in energy infrastructures to support economic growth and more sustainable energy provisions. As such, ensuring the resilience of more sustainable energy infrastructures against disruptions has become a growing concern for high-level policy makers. Drawing on interviews, participant observation, and policy analysis, and based on the author’s new book “Making Electricity Resilient: Risk and Security in a Liberalized Infrastructure” (Routledge, 2017), this presentation unpacks the work of the authorities, electricity companies, and lay persons that keeps energy systems from failing and helps them to recover from disruptions if they occur. The presentation draws from the biography of artefacts perspective, developed at the Universities of Edinburgh and Helsinki. It analyses three important sites in the Finnish electricity infrastructure: history of national infrastructure security, actions in specialized electricity control rooms, and electricity blackouts in households. Data from these sites cover long-term priorities and short-term dynamics of critical infrastructure risk, and include design, maintenance, as well as end use perspectives. The presentation pays specific attention to how the field studies were designed, using existing theoretical and empirical understanding about them, and uncovers how interconnections among these sites can be traced.


 Antti Silvast is an energy social scientist that holds a PhD from Sociology at the University of Helsinki. He has worked at Princeton University (Global Systemic Risk Group), University of Edinburgh (Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Group), and is currently a post-doctoral research associate at the Durham University’s Department of Anthropology, doing fieldwork among energy modellers in the EPSRC-funded National Centre for Energy Systems Integration. He is also an editor of the journal Science & Technology Studies, the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST).