Tram – Energy transitions in the mountains

2022 - ...

The Tram postdoctoral fellowship – Energy transitions in mountains, values and social constructions of resources in their relationship to the environment – aims to carry out a filmed investigation into the production of resources and the values given to the environment in a territory of mountain threatened by the opening of a mining operation.

© Stéphane Jaillet
Municipality of Coutansouze in Allier

The Tram project studies the perception of the energy transition and the construction of environmental values in a territory directly affected by the materiality of the energy transition. The study area chosen for this investigation involves several municipalities in the departments of Allier and Puy-de-Dôme in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, located near a lithium mining project, critical metal of the energy transition.

The research is part of a broad scientific context on the materiality of the energy transition and its territorial implications. The 20th and 21st centuries are marked by a global movement of commercial exploitation of natural resources accompanied by an awareness of their finiteness. The expression “natural resources” refers to any element of the non-human world to which a social group confers utility and value. They do not exist a priori, and only make sense within a specific social context. The rules which determine their value and the conditions of their regulation (access, use, redistribution, etc.) are constantly redefined by social interaction, knowledge regimes and therefore power relations.

The current context makes the energy transition a powerful driver for redefining what constitutes a resource, the values attributed to the environments in which these resources are found and the participation of each territory in this transition. This must, at subnational, national and international scales, make it possible to establish acceptable energy sobriety, to decarbonize energy matrices, and to make the chosen systems efficient.

By centering our approach on three mountain territories affected by lithium exploitation or projects in France and the Iberian Peninsula, the project aims to understand how resources are socially (de/re)constructed in the narrative that is made of it, and how other social projects can be defended by summoning other values given to the environment.

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