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Call for Book Chapter Proposals

(working title)

THE DARK SIDE OF GREEN
A Narrative Atlas of the Costs and Cautions Behind Our Clean Energy Utopia

The Defense Production Act has been invoked by the federal government. Critical minerals are increasingly considered commodities of national security. The price of lithium—that magical substance in our batteries, powering devices from mobile phones to electric vehicles—is more than four times that of a mere year ago. Even as many double down on burning fossil fuels, the inertia building behind the green energy transition is formidable.

And yet this renewable energy utopia is currently being built atop the backs of impoverished miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the cost of dwindling aquifers in Chile’s Atacama Desert, and in conflict with Indigenous communities around the McDermitt Caldera in the American Northwest. The rarefied virtue of solar panels, of zero-emission cars, of energy efficient smart grids is composed of very real material—material physically extracted from the earth, hauled across oceans, refined in industrial landscapes the size of cities, lugged around the globe to market, often only to end up at a landfill back on those continents of original exploitation at the end of its lifecycle. This is not to say the pursuit of a green energy future is not desirable, nor simply futile, but rather that perhaps with increased knowledge of such dynamics and foreign landscapes, we might alter our ways of transitioning off fossil fuels to minimize such damage—of body, of community, of our planet's support systems. Kneeling exclusively at the altar of capitalism appears no longer tenable. We must imagine new ways of relating to both local and distant lands. The first step is understanding our present world and its near future offspring.

This is a call for book chapter proposals to compose a narrative atlas of the costs and cautions behind our renewable energy utopia. Not unlike my previously edited collection Atlas of Material Worlds: Mapping the Agency of Matter, myself and a team of paid research assistants will design the (carto)graphic visualizations to accompany the authors’ texts with representations of the material landscapes invoked. Each chapter is to revolve around a key material in the green energy transition (i.e. cobalt, nickel, rare earth metals, etc), rendering larger stories through its expanded web of relationships. Aspiring to be highly accessible to diverse disciplines and readers, the chapters are envisioned as first-person journalistic sojourns channeling voices akin to that of John McPhee, Anna Tsing, Tom Wolfe, Lauret Savoy, et al.

 

Please submit the following below in a zipped folder with chapter title for consideration :

  • A proposed chapter abstract focusing on a single material, or family of closely related materials, tied to the complicated issues around the green energy transition. Max 400 words.

  • One previous writing sample representative of writing style and narrative voice.

  • A short CV with contact info.

Submissions will be evaluated based upon the following:

  • Level of immersion into the landscapes and peoples of chosen geography(ies).

  • Fluid and compelling narrative arc privileging landscape as a central character or driving force.

  • Effectiveness of tying elemental material(s) to larger forces and spaces of scale.

Tentative Production Schedule:​

  • Authors notified following review – Sep 5

  • First chapter drafts due – Dec 5

  • Final chapter drafts due (6-9k words) – Feb 27, 2023

  • (Carto)graphic visualization drafts provided to authors for review – Spring/Summer 2023

  • Final production and typesetting – Summer/Fall 2023

Please send questions to ms3sy@virginia.edu

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