Cities of the Symbiocene: Relational Energy Literacy as Spatial Praxis

Cities of the Symbiocene:

Guest lecture by Dr. Derek Gladwin (UBC) organized by the ASCA Cities Project on Friday 1 Nov., 3-5pm, in the Potgieterzaal, University Library (Singel 425, Amsterdam).

A 2016 Report from the World Energy Council titled “Innovating Urban Energy” predicts that by 2030 the global footprint will triple in urban areas. Without an understanding of the spatial effects of energy use and demand, urban populations cannot fully engage in the development of better practices and policies to create a just society. Consequently, there is an urgent need to address the ways cities might produce knowledge about their energy use, impact, and relationships. When building energy literacy and the link to urban infrastructures, assemblages, and power structures, we are also speaking about relationality – to each other, to systems, to societies, and to the spaces we inhabit – and the ways we produce and are produced by space. This talk considers a relational paradigm applied to the spatial dynamics of energy cultures in the Symbiocene – shifting the dominant paradigm from reductive individualism to a relational model of social symbiosis and aesthetic practice.

Dr. Derek Gladwin is an Assistant Professor of Language & Literacy Education and a Sustainability Fellow with the Centre for Interactive Research on Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. His interdisciplinary research and teaching focus on transformations in society and culture through environmental humanities, energy literacy, and sustainability education. He has held visiting fellowships at Concordia University (Montréal), National University of Ireland, Galway, University of Edinburgh, and Trinity College Dublin. He is the author, editor, or co-editor of six books and special journal issues, including Contentious Terrains (2016), Ecological Exile (2018), and Gastro-Modernism (2019), and is currently working on a book titled Energy Literacy: Narrating Transitions and Futures.

Preparatory reading/viewing:
Albrecht, Glenn. “Exiting the Anthropocene and Entering the Symbiocene.” Minding Nature 9.2 (2016): 12-16.
Broto, Vanesa Castán and Baker, Lucy. “Spatial Adventures in Energy Studies.” Energy Research & Social Science 36 (2018): 1-10. [Note: focus on sections 1-2]
Skawennati. She Falls for Ages. Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace. Montreal: Obx Labs, 2018. Please watch this film (21 min.): see

The texts can be accessed via: