How do energy sources shape our sense of self? This session is dedicated to the cultural, psychological and somatic implications of different energy regimes. Considering energy as a historically situated concept, we will discuss how it originally promoted the dominant capitalist work ethic, and recast human bodies and minds as energetic machines that can be perpetually optimized.

Setting the ground for discussion, Johannes Bruder will give a brief intro and link his work on rest and idleness in brains and computers to the PhD project of Anastasia Kubrak. Her research revolves around lithium as a pharmaceutical substance and critical mineral for the energy transition, promising an elemental fix to human and planetary exhaustion.

Our guest, political scientist Cara New Daggett, will discuss the genealogy of our modern conception of energy, tracing it back to the nineteenth-century science of thermodynamics, and elaborating on the historical connections between imperial sciences, colonial expansion, fossil fuels and work. Arguing that fossil fuels contribute to making identities, she will speak about her recent work on ‘petro-masculinity’, and the potential of feminism in reimagining post-carbon futures.

#Energy Regimes #Petro-Masculinity #Extraction #Somatic Rituals #Lithium #Fossil Fuels #Work


2:00-2:45 PM
Intro by Johannes & presentation of PhD project by Anastasia: ‘Lithium – On Bathing and Mining Grounds 1850-1880 & 2015-2022′

Break (15 min.)

3:00-4:30 PM
Presentation by Guest Cara New Daggett (ca. 30 min.)
Discussion with the author


Cara New Daggett (Virginia Tech) is an assistant professor of political science in the Department of Political Science at Virginia Tech. Her research explores the politics of energy and the environment in an era of planetary disruption. She is interested in questions that lie at the nexus of human well-being, science, technology, and the more-than-human world. Her work often draws upon feminist approaches to power in order to understand how global warming emerged, as well as how it might be mitigated. She is the author of The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, and the Politics of Work (Duke, 2019), and has published in Environmental Politics, Energy Research & Social Science, Millennium: Journal of International Studies and in the International Feminist Journal of Politics.

For Preparation
Further Readings & Materials

The PhD research of Anastasia Kubrak builds upon her previous work on lithium at the Research department of Het Nieuwe Instituut, where she co-curated exhibition Lithium (2020) and co-edited publication Lithium: State of Exhaustion (2021) together with Francisco Diaz and Marina Otero Verzier. For further work on this topic, see: