This is a Kone Foundation-funded project. The foundation of the FLOWISION consortium is based on qualitative and quantitative social science basic research: we study (in)visibility of resource flows ‘as such’, but also unfold how different actors and stakeholders visualize and make energy and waste visible, thus look at how they bring them to the political sphere.
We hypothesize that in the energy rich, but fossil-energy dependent and authoritarian context of Russia flows of oil, gas and coal are made visible and part of the hegemonic discourse of the energy-dependent regime, yet the flows of renewable energies and waste are made invisible. Finland, which is an energy poor, energy-import dependent and democratic context, the flows of mainly Russian fossil energies are being made invisible, and the flows of waste and renewable energies visible due to ambitious resource-efficiency and climate-policy objectives.
The Work Packages (WP’s) 1-3 are devoted to empirical basic research producing generalizations that enhance our practical and theoretical understanding of the phenomena at hand. The synthesis of basic research provides us with knowledge facilitating energy transition to a carbon-neutral world. Therefore, WP’s 4 and 5 are devoted to synthesis and action research: via basic research synthesis we come up with new ways to visualize and thus make the flows of fossil and renewable energies, and waste part of political debates and processes in Russia and Finland, and beyond. This visualization and politicization will be carried out by leaning on co-production between scientists and artists that includes also conducting research on the impact of our co-production actions.
We lean on Actor-network theory (ANT), and more specifically on assemblage approach, as our guiding methodological frame. Actor-network theory aims to systematize the study of agency of intertwined human and non-human actors. This “material-semiotic” method unfolds the relationships between people and things, and the networks they maintain and renew. The material and the expressive refer to the material itself (oil pipeline; landfill) and its form (gas as methane, heat and CO2 emission; waste as residue, commodity and energy). The semiotic role comes very close to the concept of discourse, as it is about maintaining or challenging the assemblage via socio-cultural practices (environmental discourses on gas and waste).