PDF copies of these publications are available via the links below or upon request via email: tristan[dot]partridge[at]ucsb[dot]edu
Further information is available at my Google Scholar page.
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Journal articles
Partridge, T. (2020) “‘Power farmers’ in north India and new energy producers around the world: Three critical fields for multiscalar research.Energy Research & Social Science 69: 101575.
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An increasing number of people around the world are directly involved in the financing and work of energy production through practices such as decentralized generation, re-scaled resource extraction, and energy localization. Many of these new energy producers are farmers seeking to diversify their income streams –raising questions about land-use, labour, and livelihoods that cut across multiple spatial and temporal scales. Such complex, multiscalar dynamics push at the boundaries of contemporary energy research and require researchers to engage in the ongoing development of critical and holistic analytical approaches. Contributing to those efforts, and reporting on solar initiatives including the state-led Power Farmers program in northern India –a country where ‘solar farming’ occupies a central position in national energy policy –this article calls for energy research to apply insights from three related fields of action and analysis: food sovereignty, eco-swaraj (or Radical Ecological Democracy), and critical environmental justice. Scrutinizing interrelated issues of power and autonomy, inequality, and ecological regeneration, the three fields offer vital tools for future research on new energy producers and for social struggles that confront emergent energy justice concerns."
Partridge, T., Barandiaran, J., Walsh, C., Bakardzhieva, K., Bronstein, L., Hernandez, M. (2020) “California oil: Bridging the gaps between local decision-making and state-level climate action.The Extractive Industries and Society 7(4): 1354-1359.
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Hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) has enabled the recovery of previously inaccessible resources and rendered new areas of the underground ‘productive’. While a number of studies in the US and UK have examined public attitudes toward fracking and its various impacts, how people conceptualise the deep underground itself has received less attention. We argue that views on resources, risk and the deep underground raise important questions about how people perceive the desirability and viability of subterranean interventions. We conducted day-long deliberation workshops (two in each country), facilitating discussions among diverse groups of people on prospective shale extraction in the US and UK. Themes that emerged in these conversations include seeing the Earth as a foundation; natural limits (a greater burden than the subsurface can withstand versus simply overuse of natural resources); and ideas about the fragility, instability and opacity of the deep underground. We find that concerns in both countries were not limited to specific, localised impacts but also addressed ecosystem links between surface and subsurface environments and broader questions about the use, identification and value of natural resources."
Partridge, T., M. Thomas, N. Pidgeon, B. Harthorn (2019) “Disturbed Earth: Conceptions of the deep underground in shale extraction deliberations in the US and UK.Environmental Values 28(6): 641-663.
"Hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) has enabled the recovery of previously inaccessible resources and rendered new areas of the underground ‘productive’. While a number of studies in the US and UK have examined public attitudes toward fracking and its various impacts, how people conceptualise the deep underground itself has received less attention. We argue that views on resources, risk and the deep underground raise important questions about how people perceive the desirability and viability of subterranean interventions. We conducted day-long deliberation workshops (two in each country), facilitating discussions among diverse groups of people on prospective shale extraction in the US and UK. Themes that emerged in these conversations include seeing the Earth as a foundation; natural limits (a greater burden than the subsurface can withstand versus simply overuse of natural resources); and ideas about the fragility, instability and opacity of the deep underground. We find that concerns in both countries were not limited to specific, localised impacts but also addressed ecosystem links between surface and subsurface environments and broader questions about the use, identification and value of natural resources."
Harthorn, B., L. Halcomb, T. Partridge, M. Thomas, C. Enders, N. Pidgeon (2019) “Health Risk Perception and Shale Development in the UK and US.Health, Risk & Society 21(1-2): 35-56.
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In this paper, we examine discourse in public deliberations in pre-development locales in the UK and US about advantages and disadvantages of future shale development (‘fracking’). We aimed to understand how people anticipate potential health effects, broadly construed, of environmental toxicity and disturbance in the context of planned, but not yet implemented, energy development. In day-long deliberations with small, diverse groups in two cities in each country (London, Cardiff in the UK; Los Angeles, Santa Barbara in the US), participants discussed impacts on health and well-being using three main rubrics: ‘It’s money or health’, ‘Why take chances?’ and ‘Beyond the tipping point’. Throughout, participants framed health as an intrinsically moral issue, with collective responsibility as a dominant normative frame. We identify the concept of compound risk to underscore effects of multiple risks and hazards on people’s sensibilities about anticipated future health and environmental harm. The findings demonstrate how and why diverse publics in preimpact sites in both countries saw shale extraction as high stakes development that poses significant, often unacceptable, risks to human and environmental health and well-being. Risks extended beyond toxicity to broad threats to health, including, for some, the end of life as we know it on the planet. Overall, participants’ discussions of health were more connected to social categories and their underlying moral principles than to technological details. This work contributes evidence of blurred boundaries between environment and health as well as the importance people place on social risks in the context of proposed energy system change."
Partridge, T., M. Thomas, N. Pidgeon, B. Harthorn (2018) “Urgency in energy justice: Contestation and time in prospective shale extraction in the United States and United Kingdom.Energy Research & Social Science 42: 138-146.
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Changes to the material and social systems that underpin energy infrastructures are inextricably linked to energy justice concerns, and the timeframes of those changes significantly affect their outcomes. Temporal aspects of energy initiatives and their impacts are thus an important site for examining emergent public views on new energy proposals, inequality, and energy justice. We propose urgency is a particularly rich concept through which to study (i) the justice and socioenvironmental implications of energy systems and technological change and (ii) how people make sense of contested energy timeframes. Here, we present findings from a series of public deliberation workshops held in the United States and United Kingdom to discuss projected impacts of shale oil and gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing. We encountered critical similarities across sites, as in widespread public resistance to issue framings that foreground urgency-based claims in support of their objectives. Participants assessed energy initiatives with particular reference to temporality and urgency, and we argue these views raise justice concerns regarding distribution, the creation of environmental inequalities, public participation, and recognition. We also suggest a focus on urgency provides fresh perspectives on justice issues surrounding the speed and direction of technological development in general and of energy transitions in particular."
Thomas, M., T. Partridge, N. Pidgeon, B. Harthorn, C. Demski, A. Hasell (2018) Using role play to explore energy perceptions in the United States and United Kingdom.” Special Issue: “Problems of Method.” Energy Research & Social Science 45: 363-373.
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We present the methodology and results of a role-play game that explored energy preferences and decision making criteria for a hypothetical town. Six day-long, mixed-methods workshops focussing on public perceptions of shale gas and oil development were held with highly diverse groups in four urban locations (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, US; London and Cardiff, UK) and two rural locations (Hirwaun and Winford, UK), N=83. As part of the workshops, small groups of participants assumed the role of town council members and were asked to debate and rank six energy infrastructure proposals (wind, solar, nuclear, shale gas, shale oil, and coal) in order of preference; a task that stimulated energetic, in-depth discussions around preferences, decision-making criteria, conditions and trade-offs. We reflect on how role-play methodology can be used to elicit insights into the nature of complex decision-making, as well as affording participants clarity and efficacy about decisions, and providing a novel platform by which to engage with energy conundrums. We also elucidate the challenges posed by inevitable disparities between role play and reality, and those associated with materials, framings, and group dynamics. Finally, we make recommendations for extending and refining the methodology, including participant-led framing and cautious consensus building."
Partridge, T. (2017) “Resisting ruination: Resource sovereignties and socioecological struggles in Cotopaxi, Ecuador.Journal of Political Ecology 24: 763-776.
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This paper examines coordinated community responses to the deployment of controversial technologies by broccoli plantations in Cotopaxi province in Ecuador's central highlands. It studies the influence of enduring structures of inequality that delimit the distribution of land and water in the region – the effects of what Ann Stoler calls imperial debris within ongoing processes of ruination. It considers the socioecological struggles mobilized to address these processes in terms of resource sovereignties – shifting assemblages of rights and relations between land, identity, ecology and social justice. The technologies in question – acetylene 'cannons' designed to disperse clouds and thus prevent damage to crops from hailstones – were locally disruptive to weather patterns, agriculture, and everyday life. In collaboration with the regional offices of Ecuador's national Indigenous Movement, affected communities from across the region campaigned – in the streets and in the courts, and ultimately with some success – to outlaw these technologies of appropriation. Although the initial case was settled in 2010, new suspicions emerged in early 2016 as some community members again blamed the plantations for an unseasonable drought, alleging they had found new technologies to use in the destruction of clouds. Reading the cannons as forms of rubble (Gordillo 2014) focuses our attention on how and why these abandoned technologies re-emerged as a source of conflict in the region and exerted unexpected influence on responses to drought conditions. I suggest these claims, counter- claims and subsequent struggles not only reveal the persistence of processes of ruination and of resistance to them but also expose the fragility within apparently immutable political systems and destructive landscapes."
Partridge, T., M. Thomas, B. Harthorn, N. Pidgeon, A. Hasell, L. Stevenson, C. Enders (2017) “Seeing futures now: Emergent US and UK views on shale development, climate change and energy systems.Global Environmental Change 42: 1-12.
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Shale development – extraction of oil and gas from shale rock formations using hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’ – has become a critical focus for energy debates in the US and UK. In both countries, potential industry expansion into new areas for shale extraction is expected to produce a wide range of environmental and social impacts and to change the configuration of future energy systems. To engage with emergent views on these complex, multi-scale issues, we held a series of day-long deliberation workshops (two in the US and two in the UK) designed and facilitated for diverse groups of people to discuss a range of possible consequences and meanings of shale development. Amid nuanced differences between and within national contexts, notable similarities in views were tracked across all four workshops. Concerns in common were not limited to specific risks such as water contamination. Participants also questioned whether shale development was compatible with their visions for and concerns about the longer-term future – including views on impacts and causes of climate change, societal dependency on fossil fuels, development of alternative energy technologies, the perceived short-term objectives of government and industry agencies, and obligations to act responsibly toward future generations. Extending prior qualitative research on shale development and on energy systems change, this research brings open-ended and cross-national public deliberation inquiry to bear on broader issues of climate change, responsibility, and ideas about how shale development might undermine or reinforce the energy systems that people consider important for the future."
Thomas, M., T. Partridge, N. Pidgeon, B. Harthorn (2017) “Deliberating the perceived risks, benefits and societal implications of shale gas and oil extraction by hydraulic fracturing in the US and UK.Nature Energy 2: 17054.
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Shale gas and oil production in the US has increased rapidly in the past decade, while interest in prospective development has also arisen in the UK. In both countries, shale resources and the method of their extraction (hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’) have been met with opposition amid concerns about impacts on water, greenhouse gas emissions, and health effects. Here we report the findings of a qualitative, cross-national deliberation study of public perceptions of shale development in UK and US locations not yet subject to extensive shale development. When presented with a carefully calibrated range of risks and benefits, participants’ discourse focused on risks or doubts about benefits, and potential impacts were viewed as inequitably distributed. Participants drew on direct, place-based experiences as well as national contexts in deliberating shale development. These findings suggest that shale gas development already evokes a similar ‘signature’ of risk across the US and UK."
Thomas, M., N. Pidgeon, D. Evensen, T. Partridge, A. Hasell, C. Enders, B. Harthorn, M. Bradshaw (2017) “Public perceptions of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas and oil in the United States and Canada.WIREs Climate Change 8(3): e450.
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The United States and Canada have been at the forefront of shale oil and gas development via hydraulic fracturing. Understanding public perceptions is important given the role that they may play in future policy decisions in both North America and other parts of the world where shale development is at a much earlier stage. We review 58 articles pertaining to perceptions, published between 2009 and 2015... Some papers point to ethical issues (e.g., inequitable risk/benefit distribution and procedural justice) and widespread distrust of responsible parties, stemming from perceived unfairness, heavyhanded corporate tactics, and lack of transparency. These findings point to the contested, political character of much of the debate about hydraulic fracturing, and raise questions of what constitutes ‘acceptable’ risk in this context. We compare these results with research emerging in the UK over the same period. Future research should focus on nuanced inquiry, a range of methodologies and explore perceptions in varied social and geographical contexts..."
Partridge, T. (2016) “Rural Intersections: Resource Marginalisation and the ‘non-Indian Problem’ in Highland Ecuador.” Special issue, “The Rural as a Dimension of Environmental Injustice.” Journal of Rural Studies 47(A): 337-349.
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This paper examines the combination, and mutual reinforcement over time, of political marginalisation and resource-related conflicts that have affected indigenous communities in Cotopaxi province, in the highlands of Ecuador - based on ethnographic fieldwork studying the relational dynamics of community organizing and indigenous political action. Over the course of the last century, national policies for agrarian change focused successively on ‘modernization,’ agrarian reform, and integration into globalized markets and systems of production. Indigenous populations have consistently been targeted by these policies - the existence of widespread poverty was often dubbed the ‘Indian problem’ by institutions of authority. However, government policies directed at this ‘problem’ have repeatedly recreated the very issues they outwardly sought to resolve: rural indigenous populations have been redefined (as peasants, then workers, or now ‘partners’ in national agricultural projects), but they have not been repositioned. The ‘problem’ can thus more accurately be located within the histories of dispossession and systemic politico-economic exclusion that both (i) support structures of inequality, and (ii) allow environmental and juridical injustices to persistently shape the contexts within which rural indigenous communities here, and elsewhere, are acting. Examining the ‘non-Indian problem’ in Ecuador, and the mechanisms behind social and environmental inequalities (Callewaert, 2002) more broadly, this research engages environmental injustice as a socio-historical process rather than the result of discrete events or as an ahistorical phenomenon (Pellow, 2000). In the community studied here - San Isidro - collective action challenges entrenched historical inequalities in access to land and water, and seeks to increase shared labour on common infrastructure, whilst also managing communal areas of paramo moorland. This research identifies links between place-based processes of development and coordinated efforts to defend rural livelihoods - with implications for policies of governance (land rights, water rights), and for the design of localised resource management."
Partridge, T. (2016) “Water Justice and Food Sovereignty in Cotopaxi, Ecuador.Environmental Justice 9(2): 49-52.
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Cotopaxi province is home to some of the largest broccoli plantations in Ecuador, and this crop continues to be a focus of export efforts and agricultural policy in the country. These plantations tend to occupy the best land in the region, in areas that have fertile soil and are easy to irrigate—marginalizing smaller communities and perpetuating histories of dispossession. Industrial irrigation is facilitated by historic water rights that greatly limit the amount of water available to nearby indigenous and campesino farming communities. In response to these inequalities, some communities have mobilized and accessed external support enabling them to construct their own irrigation systems. Others, however, are without the facilities to do so and consequently continue to struggle with soil erosion and field desertification. This article documents unequal access to water in Cotopaxi’s Alpamalag Valley and compares the experiences of two communities located close to the Selva Alegre broccoli plantation, including their collective responses to these environmental injustices. It outlines principles of ‘‘food sovereignty’’ as they appear in Ecuador’s Constitution—including redistribution of productive resources such as land and water, promoting equity and solidarity among food producers and consumers, and impeding monopolistic practices—and examines their potential for environmental justice concerns among rural populations, especially those who face entrenched relations of domination and intersecting inequalities."
Partridge, T. (2015) “Recoupling Groups Who Resist: Dimensions of Difference, Opposition and Affirmation.” Journal of Resistance Studies 1(2): 12-50.
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This article outlines a shift in analytical focus from the outcomes of collective action to the active processes and forms of cooperation that resistance groups create, embody and engage with. By rejecting categories of difference that are imposed upon them by agents and institutions of power, and by redefining notions of opposition in their own terms, groups who resist generate opportunities for ‘recoupling’ themselves – allowing alliances and strengthened networks of cooperation to emerge from common practice. Drawing on fieldwork experiences in Ecuador and theoretical works of Deleuze, Derrida and Haraway, I suggest these processes depend on acts of ‘affirmation’: actions that reaffirm the social, economic and ecological relations that those involved deem to be valuable or vital, or both. From the specific contexts of indigenous activism in Ecuador, organising at the national and local scales and operating across boundaries of social difference, the dynamics of collaboration described here reflect those at play within a broad range of actors and collectivities engaged in diverse forms of resistance. This prompts further forms of engagement and reflection in our attempts to understand and pursue collaborative struggles for equality, collectivity and social justice."
Book chapters
Partridge, T. (2018) “The commons as organizing infrastructure: Indigenous collaborations and post-neoliberal visions in Ecuador” in E. Apostolopoulou & J. Cortes-Vazquez (eds.) The Right to Nature: Social movements, environmental justice and neoliberal natures. London: Routledge-Earthscan.
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By focusing on experiences in the indigenous community of San Isidro in Ecuador’s Cotopaxi province, [I show] how different resources held in common can become the basis of both physical and social forms of infrastructure vital to the realization of a range of social and political goals. The commons in the experiences described here refer both to the natural resources at the heart of San Isidro’s pipeline project in Ecuador and the social resources that are required to maintain and sustain it – including voluntary labour schedules, cooperative decision-making processes, regular participation in assembly meetings and collective work-parties. Together, these can be understood as comprising an “organizing infrastructure” – a set of practices, skills, techniques and forms of organizing that can be (and have been) put to use in other actions and collaborations. [I further argue] that the timing of these developments in community praxis and collective action in San Isidro is linked to political shifts at the national-level: through their collaborative work on the pipeline project, San Isidro residents have realized a number of objectives that the 2008 Constitution aimed to achieve. [With this chapter, I reflect on] San Isidro’s community-operated irrigation system as both an expression of collaborative potential and an illustration of how a network of communities seized emergent political opportunities – where different elements of “the commons” were indeed the basis for an emergent political space that fosters collaboration. Such fraught and shifting political dynamics also reflect how post-neoliberal ideas continue to rely for their actualization on the commitment, cooperation and labour of diverse communities."
Partridge, T. (2017) “Unconventional action and community control: Rerouting dependencies despite the hydrocarbon economy” in K. Jalbert, A. Willow, D. Casagrande & S. Paladino (eds.) ExtrACTION: Impacts, Engagements and Alternative Futures. New York: Routledge.
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In recent years, extractive industries have expanded operations by developing technologies to mine unconventional fossil fuels, leading to further investments in infrastructures to support the industry. Exploiting the apparent abundance of unconventional fossil fuels thus not only contributes to the very real risk of runaway climate change - it also creates global futures where dependence on extraction products and practices is deepened. By contrast, there are innumerable initiatives and struggles to create alternative futures that work toward lessening the role played by subsurface hydrocarbons in meeting everyday needs, especially at the community level. By revising or renewing forms of social organization and resource relations that attend more closely to local concerns, such actions can be described as ‘unconventional’ insofar as they disrupt, however slightly, the default dynamic of fossil fuel dependence. This chapter looks at examples of collective action now underway to reduce present and future dependency on fossil fuel extraction. It focuses on the importance of community control over land and political processes, and on the concerns and commitments that motivate alternative visions for the future."
Pidgeon, N., M. Thomas, T. Partridge, D. Evensen, B. Harthorn (2017) “Hydraulic Fracturing: A Risk for Environment, Energy Security and Affordability?” in R. Kasperson (ed.) Risk Conundrums: Solving Unsolvable Problems. New York: Routledge-Earthscan.
Journal commentaries
Partridge, T. (2017) “Baraat Lalten [Our Electric Illuminations]” in “Our Lives With Electric Things: Theorizing the Contemporary.Cultural Anthropology website, December 19, 2017.
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There were drums, trumpets, cheers, and an occasional pause for guests to shower the musicians with ten-rupee notes—brief gestures of exuberance caught in the light of the lamps.
These moments offered a break from necessity... for Georges Bataille, the eternal play of sunlight engulfs all living matter with extravagance. Such abundance encourages action that stems from a general sense of energy and possibility: action that isn’t limited by a particular end. Purpose is peripheral to practice. In such a world, individuals stand at the heart of a web of resources, some actual and in hand, others distant or denied, and still others in a state of mere potential. In the right light, to celebrate one’s place in the web is to embrace the wealth it represents, no matter the circumstances."
Partridge, T. (2016) “Engaging Anthropology in Deliberation and Facilitation.” Practicing Anthropology 38(3): 37-8.
"What can anthropology contribute to public deliberation? How might anthropological methods foster the effective facilitation of deliberative conversations and research, particularly when concerned with the impacts of extraction?"
Partridge, T. (2016) “Energy is Everywhere: on Imaginaries and ‘Contested Powers.’” Anthropology Today 32(4): 26-7.
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Energy research... benefits from agile modes of inquiry that study both the diversity and malleability  of energy-society relations.  Anthropology is equipped to engage with both spheres simultaneously: cultural and ideational aspects (energy imaginaries) as well as the conflicts and asymmetries that result from energy practices (contested powers)."
Partridge, T. (2016) “Inheriting Struggle and Forming the Future: Indigenous Education-Creation Centres in Highland Ecuador.” Themed issue, “Place, Learning, and Resilience.” Journal of Sustainability Education 11: 1-15.
"Tucked beside homesteads and family food-gardens on the hill-slopes above San Isidro, an indigenous community in Ecuador’s central Andes, you will find the Centro de Formación Indígena ‘Guamán Poma de Ayala’. This is the ‘Guamán Poma de Ayala’ Indigenous Education-Creation Centre (the Centre), a community-based initiative that through voluntary labour sustains an informal and intermittent series of action-focused workshops, gatherings, classes, meetings and events. Its roles and uses are manifold: one week hosting language classes in the local dialect of Kichwa, another as rehearsal space for a pair of visiting musicians in preparation for annual winter festivities; on occasion the site of planning meetings lasting late into the night to debate and decide the relative merits of a community-wide food cooperative, led by two teenagers; at other times becoming something of an activist hub, where mobilizations with neighbouring communities were coordinated to tackle ongoing discrepancies in access to water. Often it would be taken over by a group of jovenes/youths, practicing crafts or music or dance, or else huddled around a TV set watching a film about environmental degradation of indigenous lands in the relatively distant Amazonian regions. Needless to say it was an active space, performing many educational and intentional roles, while being firmly rooted in the qualities and characteristics of San Isidro.
In [this article], I look at the relationships between place, collective struggle and the kinds of education that a Centre such as this provides, in order to explore the links between emergent place-making practices and the construction of intentional, sustainable livelihoods and futures."
Partridge, T. (2012) “Organizing Process, Organizing Life: Collective Responses to Precarity in Ecuador.” Interface: A Journal for and about Social Movements 4(2): 310-316.
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In Ecuador’s central Andes, members of the Indigenous village of San Isidro are engaged in various community-level projects which seek to secure and stabilize rural life, in the face of increasing temporary labour migration. [This article takes] an introductory look at how the ‘organizing process’ at the centre of such forms of collective action is adapted to encourage participation through responsibility and how subsequent collaborative projects are designed to counteract some negative impacts of precarious labour conditions and opportunities. In these activities we see a snapshot of people who not only yearn for, but actively, cooperatively set out to build and re-make a ‘happier life’ or their version of a good, or just, or dignified way-of-being."
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