Carbon Critique Podcast #2: Timothy Mitchell – Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil

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Timothy Mitchell is a political science Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies at Columbia University. His areas of interest include colonialism, political economy, the politics of energy, and the making of expert knowledge. Much of his work blends the study of the built world, technical devices, ecological processes, and the history of economic and political concepts. In this episode, we will talk to Mitchell about his book “Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil,” which came out over 10 years ago. 📲 The book traces a revisionist history of 20th century by centering the analysis on the material basis of political power. He focuses on how political systems and political action are constrained and determined by the carbon energy that emerged since the 19th century, first with coal and then as it transitioned to oil. By emphasizing how carbon’s “socio-technical worlds” manifest themselves, Mitchell sheds light on where actual sites of power lie and what “political agency” is possible. This, in turn, helps us think on historically grounded modes of energy transition, resistance against the ubiquitous carbon rationality, and ways to re-imagine a post-carbon society. The transcript of this episode, can be found here (English and German) 📲 The music is by Mateus Alves 📲 If you would like to learn more about the Ecopol research group’s work, please visit our page: 📲 You can also follow us on Twitter 📲

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