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Monday, October 2, 2023

Grant Opportunities: Call for Essays on Energy for State of Power 2024 Report

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Deadline: 5-Jun-23

The Transnational Institute (TNI) is issuing an open call for essays, accessible papers, infographics and artistic collaborations for its twelfth State of Power report to be launched in January 2024. The focus for the twelfth edition is on energy.

For its 2024 edition, TNI is therefore interested in proposals that explore energy and power in creative ways that help deepen understanding and improve social movement strategies. They need to understand who controls energy, how that entrenched power shapes society and the environment, what is changing (or not), how it can be challenged, and how social movements can gain power over energy and harness it to advance social and environmental justice. They welcome reflections from different disciplinary fields in order to create as rounded a picture energy as possible. They are also interested in producing some infographics or artwork that help penetrate the key agencies of state and corporate power and the own power to wrest back control.

In sum, the ultimate goal is not analysis for its own sake but rather to empower activists and movements to more successfully challenge, confront and overcome entrenched power and transform energy systems to work for everyone.

These are some questions – but not an exclusive list – that they are interested in exploring and understanding better. In every case, they are interested in how energy relates to power. They are interested in analysis that helps activists see the big picture or tackles areas that are not yet properly understood or explored:

  • Who controls energy today? Which corporations? Which states? Which corporate-state alliances underpin this control? How does this impact on access to energy?
  • Why has Big Oil maintained its power despite the obvious impacts it will have for all humanity? Is it all down to the power of money or are there other unexplored reasons for their power? Which other corporate players have obstructed the development of clean energy technologies and alternative energy systems? And how have they done it?
  • What are the strategies of accumulation of different capitalist actors (e.g. producer companies, traders, investors) that profit from the current energy system and how can these actors’ power to uphold their strategies be effectively challenged?
  • What role does international law, such as investment protection or intellectual property rights, play in entrenching the current energy model, and how could it be changed to deliver a just energy transition?
  • How is the global energy model – and its changing structure – shaping geopolitics and war? What will the energy transition mean for prospects for war and conflict?
  • How are they to understand the global geopolitical role of major economic powers such as US and China, other oil states such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, as well as the alliance of OPEC in the global energy system – including the role they play in aiding or obstructing an energy transition?
  • How are they to understand the role and power of state-owned energy firms? How do they differ to private corporate firms? What different strategies are needed to challenge, confront, and transform state-owned energy companies?
  • How is digitalisation reshaping power in energy markets? Who benefits? Who is impacted?
  • How do different energy sources and models impact on the power of labour, communities, gender and North-South relations? How do they best address energy poverty and colonialism?
  • What will happen to Big Oil and the other dominant capitalist actors that control energy systems if they transition away from fossil-fuel development? Are there opportunities to use the transition to challenge and undermine concentrated corporate power?
  • Is renewable energy different in power relations to fossil-fuel based energy systems, and if not, how could it be? Who is positioned to benefit from a transition to renewable energy? Which corporate sectors and which states are positioned to be more powerful and what are the implications?
  • How are the emerging markets in rare earths and minerals needed for renewable energy (eg lithium, cobalt, rare earths, nickel) shaping power relations including land ownership, labour, corporate power, community accountability?
  • What transformations do they need in energy systems to make them more universally accessible, democratic, accountable, equitable and ecologically sustainable – nationally and transnationally? What forms of finance, ownership and governance are needed? What are the strengths and weaknesses of state-led versus community-led energy models in challenging entrenched power?
  • Which transition-related technologies hold the most potential to build just and democratic energy systems with the least environmental harm?
  • How can the power of those forces in control of the energy system today be strategically challenged and by whom? Which types of alliances should be built and how?  How do they best steer a path away from a corporate-led or state-extractive energy future?
  • What role should international institutions like the UN play to facilitate, enforce and fund globally just energy transitions?

As well as analysis, TNI would also be interested in specific case-studies that draw out general lessons as well as stories and artwork and films that help us understand the energy and power in creative and imaginative ways.

  • TNI has a small number of grants of 250-500 euros – to be prioritized for activists with low-incomes and/or working in the Global South.
Format and Style
  • TNI produces its essays in the format of a long-read, illustrated by international artists. They also try to syndicate the pieces to other online magazines to maximise readership and have also produced a podcast and a webinar based on the series. They are therefore looking for pieces written as journalistic long-reads that make information accessible and that can be pitched to other media.
  • For both essays and podcasts, the following are important for communication:
    • stories
    • concrete examples
    • metaphors
    • journalistic techniques
  • They also welcome suggestions of photos, videos, artwork, songs and other ways to illustrate essays. They discourage the overuse of academic jargon literature analysis and academic debates that mean little to the public.
  • While essays are the main focus of the report, TNI is also open to proposals for artistic explorations that examine the same themes that could accompany and complement the essays.
Eligibility Criteria
  • While TNI is proud of the high standard of scholarship, this call does not require any specific academic qualifications.
  • Contributors to earlier editions of State of Power have included students, professors, well-known authors, journalists, activists and artists – all at different stages of their careers and lives.
  • TNI particularly welcomes submissions by women, young scholars/artists and people based in the Global South.

For more information, visit Transnational Institute (TNI).

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