Arcadian pasts and futures: making and breaking a lignite coal landscape in southern greece

Stanton, N. Bucky
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Other Contributors
Campbell, Nancy, D.
Velho, Raquel
Knowles, Scott, G.
Smith, Jessia, M.
Kinchy, Abby, J.
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Science and technology studies
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At the end of the 1950s, Greece’s state-owned electrical utility the Public Power Corporation (PPC) surveyed large reserves of a low-quality energy resource called lignite coal around the town of Megalopolis. Since the inauguration of the lignite mines and power plant in 1970, lignite coal exploitation has organized the social, economic, and technical shape of Megalopolis—a lignite landscape. Since the announcement of a nation-wide “delignification” program in 2019, Megalopolis’s lignite landscape has unwound as government neglect and private wind energy developers carelessly intercede near important natural and cultural heritage sites. However, by dismantling the lignite landscape, the energy transition at Megalopolis is not only revealing of an increasingly uncertain future but has unmoored the area from the historical and temporal relations enacted by the large-scale landscape practice of lignite mining, transportation, and burning. Drawing on studies on resources, energy transition, landscape, as well as historicity and temporality, I investigate the meaning of Greece’s energy transition and describes the consequent ways people in Megalopolis are imagining historical meaning and feeling temporal experience. Methodologically, I combine participant observation on the Mount Lykaion Archaeological excavation, ethnographic interviews with local residents from the Megalopolis basin and Lykaion mountains above, archeological labors and lignite miners, Arcadian archeological and heritage experts, and local mountaineers and environmentalists, with archival research at the historical archives of Greece’s Public Power Corporation and Arcadian’s archeological ministry. Overall, this research shows how fossil fuel and energy systems and the renewable energy transition shape, and are shaped, by the values and meanings of the past, present, and future.
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Dept. of Science and Technology Studies
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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