Welcome to The Experimental Humanities Collaborative Network

Symposium: Urban-Industrial Entanglements in Crisis

February 22, 2023 - February 24, 2023

Symposium co-organised by the Laboratory of Critical Urbanism, CityIndustries Research Network, and Nordic Summer University is a context to reflect on and discuss urban-industrial entanglements in the course of the current European energy crisis. It is also an occasion to look at fragilities and moments of relations between ‘urban’ and ‘industrial’ in a wider geography. Today energy infrastructures are among the major targets of the Russian military’s attempts to destroy Ukraine’s statehood. At the same time, the energy crisis started in Europe before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, already in fall 2021, through the artificially created deficit on natural gas and unprecedented price increase. As a result, today one could expect destabilization of habitats in Europe beyond the immediate area of Russia’s invasion. This is destabilization of relations between energy sources, energy markets, industries, housing, and welfare systems. In such circumstances power plants, district heating networks, sources of energy, as well as the underlying infrastructures are moving to the center of political discourse. Energy poverty is likely to lead to politicization of energy and to energy populisms.

This prominence of energy issues today requires contextualization of the industrial mode of energy production [for cities and regions] as a relatively new historical phenomenon – around a century old. At the same time, it also requires revisiting the role of energy in more recent varieties of industrialisation, de-industrialisation and re-industrialisation. CityIndustries Research Network scrutinized the historical entanglements between the ‘urban’ and the ‘industrial’, thus developing a critical angle on both terms. Which new facets of ‘urban’, of ‘industrial’ and of relations between them are we able to grasp as the result of the current multi-scalar crisis? Which notions, research fields and interlocutors’ partnerships are needed to understand urban-industrial entanglements in this crisis?

Vilnius in Lithuania is a good location to start thinking on the Symposium’s questions. For, its long-term dependence on natural gas from Russia makes it highly vulnerable today. It is also vulnerable in the ongoing process of its disintegration from the Soviet era regional electricity network BRELL. Those vulnerabilities unavoidably lead to policy experimentation on many levels. The Symposium is a context to comprehend the dynamic field of this experimentation, and thus to scrutinize different aspects of states’ commitment to the long-term goal of synchronizing energy infrastructures and institutions within fossil free democracy.

The Symposium invites contributions on the following topics:

  • Competing meanings and valorisations of resources in energy transitions (as well as competing meaning of resources’ toxicity)
  • Urban/rural discourses and practices of fossil-free statehoods
  • Politics of extractivism, multi-scalar effects of extractivism
  • Waste, toxicity and crisis
  • Energy nationalisms
  • ‘Urban’, ‘industrial’ and food
  • Representations of industry-city relations in memorialisation projects and in artistic production