An Anthropology of Electricity from the Global South

via .Academia Edu by Akhil Gupta

The conventional view of what the energy future should look like, especially in the global south is her challenged and an interesting anthropological alternative propose don finding solutions to the vexing problems facing the world today.

“Of all the forms of energy that fuel our modern world and its  lifeways, electricity is perhaps the most pervasive and also the most interesting. More than other infrastructure, the ubiquity of electricity may indeed have hindered an appreciation of its biopolitical importance. Timothy Mitchell (2011, 12–42) has urged social scientists to pay greater attention to the specific material properties of fossil fuels, properties that shape the manner in which these fuels can be stored, transported, and used.”

He describes how the availability of quality electricy is seen as a critical factor and that exploring ways of providing alternatives both to electric power and how it is used, is critical to the sustainable future we are all seeking .


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Figure 1. Stitching under smart power lamp. Photo by Robin Wyatt, used here courtesy of the Rockefeller Foundation

Achilles’ conclusion to his paper lays out why it is worthwhile consider and anthropology of electricity  and what its implications could be for the global soothes wells for the planet.

“What is at stake here are different ideas about the future. That the aspiration of the emerging middle class in the global South is to become more like the rich citizens of the global North is an index of the colonization of their imaginations of the future. The failure of development discourse lies in the fact that it seeks to replicate globally the condition of the global North, even as it is increasingly evident that such a condition is unsustainable and leads to eco-suicide. Gandhi was prescient about the unsustainability of modern developmental models when he reportedly said: “If it took Britain half the resources of the world to be what it is today, how many worlds would India need?” (Tolba 1987, 118) Electric futures have to contend with these aspirations among the emerging classes in the global South and struggle to realize notions of development and progress that are sustainable.”




Jason King of Game/Landscape | Landscape Urbanism. has done an in-depth  job of recounting what is available  to landscape architects and urban designers from the creators of computer games and gaming environments. The potential  with these tools and approaches for research, analysis and representation of landscape and the built environment  is much more than the current  static visualisations or even the usual walk/fly-throughs we are now getting. Along with the advances in point cloud modelling, see post Simulating Landscapes with Point Cloud Models, an analysis and visualisation technique that has asleep learning curve and is very resource intensive, game engines could give a faster more emotive way of accessing the landscape and its experiential potential. Like Jason I was hooked on Myst and its sequels, the beautiful graphics , the idea of a game that involved no violence and the experiential base of the game fascinated me and we were addicted to it and all its sequels.


‘I’ve mentioned a few times on Twitter, I have had an on-going interest in game design as a medium, but also in relation to the potential synergistic overlaps between the technology/techniques with landscape architecture and urbanism practice.  The most obvious connection has to do with visual representation, as the ability to create engaging site and building environments is clearly , but there are some interesting opportunities for educational tools, user experience, ecological and urban modeling, scenario building, and iterative design.”



“Growing up with gaming, a trio of interactions early in college defined the concept and hooked me into the potential in an interesting way – even 20+ years ago.  The first was a game my sister and i were obsessed with, Myst.  Building on the word-based computer games from the 80’s like Adventureland and Pirate Adventure, Myst came out in 1991 and provided a graphical environment (that at the time was incredible) along with a mystery and things that needed to be observed and unlocked.”

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Stefano Boeri’s La Tour des Cedres will be covered with plants

Boeri has revealed plans for a plant-covered 36-storey tower that continues the vertical forest concept he first implemented at a pair of towers in Milan

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Why do architects think trees belong on buildings – most are too large for this positioning terns roots, growth habit and potentially for wind resistance – trees roots also are adept at destroying structures – jus think of the temples of Ankor Wat.

See on Scoop.itUrban Choreography

The city as a common good

Excerpted from Sheila Foster: “The city is also a collective or common good, in that urban residents share a number of its resources — from the parks and opens spaces to streets and buildings, and even a city’s culture. Much like the natural environment, the urban environment too is subject to the disproportionate consumption by …

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The disproportionate consumption of the cities common ground  by those with wealth and power and how this impacts the rest of us is a cause for concern , requires constant renegotiation and is a part of what it means to have a just and equitable city .

See on Scoop.itUrban Choreography

Social Performance: Prototyping User Behavior

In order to form the basis of lasting urban interventions, projects must be not only environmentally sustainable, but socially and economically sustainable as well.

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My attempts to re-engage  and  in getting to grips with the research I have done on the Green Point Urban Park in Cape Town leads me to review the literature and ideas on performance in landscape architecture 

See on Scoop.itUrban Choreography

Why is Landscape Architecture so Important to Public Health?

Urban Choreography:

The impact landscape design can have on public health is not always appreciated, rather it is something we take for granted, but there is a need for research on how specific interventions are able to influence people to take a walk, spend some time in contact with nature and reconnect to their inner selves, all valuable aspects of health, not just the vigorous exercise that is so fashionable now, but other, less obvious intervention such as a comfortable bench with a back rest overlooking a distant view, can get one to take a walk to get there.

Originally posted on designing4health:

Landscape architecture can play a vital role in improving public health but before we address the question in the title let’s look at a few basics of health.

What is Health? “Health is the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.[1] In other words we’re not just talking about not having a cold, but the social environment and ability to maintain a state of mental and/or spiritual health that supports a good quality of life.

“Houston, we have a problem”. Our health care cost are spiraling out of control, the US spends more per capita on health care than any other country in the world.[2] Obesity rates among children more than tripled from 1980 to 2008. More than 1/3 of children aged 6-19 were overweight or obese.[3]  Obesity related illness or disease such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes account…

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Granny Flats and a Sponge House: Rethinking Necessities for the Future of Communities Along the Los Angeles River | The Nature of Cities

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Densification through granny flati-fication -something the residents of out South African townships know well  – high income forma small shack in the backyard  – or several

See on Scoop.itUrban Choreography

Harvard’s “Black in Design” Conference: Addressing Social Injustice with Design

Urban Choreography:

There is a very high need in Southern Africa for black professional graduates to bring a balance of cultures and approaches to the field, but it seems that there is a lack of interest on the part of students to enter a discipline that pays its interns and employees so poorly, and has so few opportunities for scholarships and bursary support.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

Black in Design / Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union Black in Design / Harvard Graduate School of Design’s African American Student Union

This year’s ASLA graduating student survey shows that for the third continuous year only 1 percent of graduates are African American or Native American. So Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD)’s first Black in Design (BiD) conference, which sold old, is a particularly timely event. The student organizers argued that addressing social injustice through design starts with two steps: revealing “the histories of under-represented groups in design,” and acknowledging that designers have a responsibility to “repair our broken built environment.” Four hundred designers, including landscape architects, architects, and planners, met to discuss these ideas in panels focused on changing design education and how we design buildings, neighborhoods, cities, and regions. Sara Zewde, a 2014 National Olmsted Scholar and designer at Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, and Dr. Sonja Dümpelmann, associate professor of landscape architecture at GSD and…

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Interview with Steven Nygren, on Serenbe, a Farm to Table Community

Urban Choreography:

A great model and well documented article well worth reading all of it.

Originally posted on The Dirt:

Steven Nygren / Serenbe Steven Nygren / Serenbe

Steven Nygren is the founder of Serenbe, which has won numerous awards, including the Urban Land Institute Inaugural Sustainability Award, the Atlanta Regional Commission Development of Excellence, and EarthCraft’s Development of the Year.

You founded Serenbe, a 1,000-acre community in the city of Chattahoochee Hills, which is 30 miles southwest of Atlanta, Georgia. In Serenbe, there are dense, walkable clusters of homes, shops, and businesses, even artists’ studios, modeled like English villages set within 40,000 acres of forest you helped protect. Can you briefly tell me the story of this community? What motivated you to create it?

It was a reaction. We purchased 60 acres in a historic farm in 1991 just on a weekend whim while on a drive to show our children farm animals. It seemed like a good investment. I wasn’t sure why we were doing it other than my wife and…

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