Vivian Bi

Vivian Bi

2021 Urban Fellow

Research Topic: Socio-cultural and Ecological Interactions

Faculty Advisor: Michael Dove

Energy Cultures in Peri-urban Beijing

I conducted ethnographic research in one of [the] villages in northeastern Beijing to understand how villager and migrant residents in these precarious spaces navigate electrification as an everyday, mundane social experience (Dove and Kammen 2015:24,40, Chatti et al. 2017). Extended from a scientific artifact to a cultural prism, stoves and other vessels of energy consumption can be reconstituted “not simply as a product but also as production, not simply as socially constituted by also as socially constituting” (Roseberry 1982:1026 cited in Mintz 1985:14). Energy’s significance in making sense of how we power the world - power as in energy, but also what Leslie White would extend to organization, behavior, culture as the manifestation of energy (1943:336) – rests not only in the material culture of how meaning is embedded in objects, but material-discursive practices of how energy technologies shape energy culture as well (Barad 2003, Lennon 2017).