Open thread: academic writing on fossil fuel divestment


in Economics, Politics, The environment, Writing

I am interested in seeing any scholarly work published on campus fossil fuel divestment campaigns, particularly peer-reviewed articles and books from academic presses.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan April 11, 2017 at 1:23 pm

Chapter: Assembling Neoliberalism (pp 131-149)

Date: 07 April 2017

(Re)assembling Neoliberal Logics in the Service of Climate Justice: Fuzziness and Perverse Consequences in the Fossil Fuel Divestment Assemblage

Robyn Mayes, Carol Richards, Michael Woods


Socially motivated divestment from the fossil fuel industry is occurring at a rapid rate. Banks, pension funds, universities, and philanthropic organizations around the world are divesting vast amounts of capital. Based on empirical data from face-to-face interviews with key divestment actors in the UK and Australia, this chapter explores the entanglements between the divestment and neoliberal assemblages. By approaching this topic through the analytical frame of assemblage, we highlight the perverse consequences arising from the mobilization of the responsible citizen subject through free market mechanisms. That is, whilst the divestment movement achieves its aims in disrupting flows of capital around the fossil fuel industry, it unwittingly reproduces neoliberalizing logics by reinforcing a shift away from the state as the key corporate regulator.

Milan April 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm

“This chapter has examined aspects of the fossil fuel divestment assemblage by demonstrating fuzziness or “perverse confluences” (Dagnino 2010) arising from its mobilization of the responsible citizen subject and use of free market mechanisms. These serve to both enable and limit the terrain of action and also reproduce neoliberalizing ideologies and practices while at the same time opening space for a (limited) politics of resistance and transformation. The movement’s mobilization of an active and proactive civil society also reinforces a neoliberal shift away from the state as the key corporate regulator. What is posited as a challenge to the power of transnational corporations at the same time works to assign such power to the renewable energy sector and endorse the notion of/ belief in a “good” economy. This in turn, it needs to be noted, makes demands on capitalism, including a challenge to the effective functioning of the “free” market. The movement has, as part of its mobilization of “an active and proactive civil society”, produced a number of tools available for use in other engagements undertaken by civil society actors. Relatedly, this active citizenry remains an unstable and inherently risky dimension of neoliberalism. Perhaps most importantly, the assembling of an active rationale as a call to action renders the borders between economic and moral action fuzzy, thus challenging the neutrality of market motivations and actions.

An assemblage approach thus has value in enriching understandings of the ways that neoliberalism is (re)produced in local and resistant practices as opposed to understandings that privilege neoliberalism as a unified entity which pre-exists and is external to local practices (Newman 2013b, 13). That is, we have sought to highlight the complex ways in which neoliberalism is both reproduced and challenged in activist struggles. What matters is the particular assemblage and the ways that inherent perversity and “fuzziness” may serve to create a space for politics and change.”

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