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Material Cultures of Energy

Led by Professor Frank Trentmann (AHRC, 2014 to 2017, £766,568),  this project investigates how energy transitions played themselves out in people’s lives in the past; how networks and grids changed space and communities; how energy futures were imagined and contested; and how societies lived with shortages and disruption. We explore the lived, material and imagined worlds of energy.

Energy transition is a major challenge for sustainable development today. But energy transitions are nothing new. Societies went through major transformations in the past, moving from wood and coal to gas and electricity. These were not only technological accomplishments: energy use is more than just the result of supply and big technology. Demand is made up of many energy-hungry daily practices and customs. Transitions from coal to gas and electricity were not effortless. They were historical processes shaped by people and communities as well as experts.

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