Feminist Energy Futures: Powershift and Environmental Social Justice is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council funded research project led by Dr. Sheena Wilson and Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea of the University of Alberta.

This research project examines, documents, theorizes, and articulates how feminist practices can resist climate and energy injustices and (re)invent just and sustainable energy and social futures.

Feminists of all genders have been at the forefront of environmental social justice activism in Canada and around the world and have much to contribute to the urgent collective project of energy transition from petroleum inequality and dependency to equitable renewable systems. Yet feminist and allied insights, perspectives, and practical innovations are all too often silenced and overwritten in mainstream discourses that determine public opinion and inform policy decisions. The ways that patriarchal division between public and private domains of our lives and our society are organized hold significant and unjust consequences for women, for feminized groups, and racialized peoples. The relegation of feminized labour as private domesticity or as negatively stereotyped women’s work obscures and devalues it. Feminist political activism and agency is ignored in the dominant media discourses, or at least repressed unless it conforms to patriarchal public norms and expectations. Feminist solidarities, modes of expression, and conviviality are subalternized unless they can be co-opted, commodified, and capitalized on by patriarchal colonial institutions, while the injustices created by capitalist development are externalized—relegated as private, individual problems.  

The objectives of this research are:

  1. Record and build feminist knowledge around environmental justice and energy-transition projects and give voice to women who will creatively capture their energy-transition expertise in the medium of their choice: creative non-fiction, digital storytelling, participatory photography (photovoice), or visual and material art.
  2. Create a set of energy-transition cultural resources (stories, art, and artefacts) that include knowledge, memories, communication media, and practices.
  3. Conduct a critical-theoretical synthesis of this knowledge in order to illuminate feminist visions of sustainability by a) mapping local anti-oil resistance activities; b) collecting women’s narratives about their needs and priorities regarding their responsibilities for the everyday social reproduction of their households and communities; c) describing the networks of cooperation these women create to ensure the intergenerational sustainability of their households and communities; d) comparing these feminist visions of sustainability to dominant narratives circulating around women and energy in Canada.
  4. Develop new theories regarding the capacities of feminist anti-oil and environmental social justice activism in effecting change online, through art, and through practical work on the ground.

If you would like to participate in this research, please contact Dr. Sheena Wilson (sheena.wilson@ualberta.ca ) and Dr. Sourayan Mookerjea (sourayan@ualberta.ca) with research assistant Eva Bogdan (ebogdan@ualberta.ca) in copy. 


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