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Allen, I. (2021). Dirty coal: Industrial populism as purification in Poland's mining heartland. (Doctoral dissertation). Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Dirty coal: Industrial populism as purification in Poland's mining heartland
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the second half of the 2010s, far-right populist parties gained increasing power and influenceacross Europe, and around the world. Core to their ethnonationalist, anti-elite agenda, and theiremotive politics, has often been a defense of fossil fuels, threatening action to address the climatecrisis and raising the spectre of fascism. Increasingly-perceived-as-‘dirty’ coal, the raw material thatmade the industrial modern world order possible and contributed most to its mountingcontradictions, has acquired a special status in contemporary far-right ideology. What is theemotional intersection between them at a time of far-reaching economic, environmental and energyinstability and change, when coal has not only been losing its material value and its symbolic link tomodernity, but is increasingly widely deemed immoral too?

To date, studies of far-right populism have largely overlooked how energy and environmentalchange feature in their present rise. This reflects how these issues have been largely treated astechnical matters, and therefore relegated to the domain of scientific expertise, rather thanrecognized as inherently social, cultural and political concerns. Tending to adopt a macro-levelapproach, far-right studies have also not yet fully addressed the historically, geographically, andculturally-situated reasons for this success, particularly among the (white, male) industrial workingclass.From a bottom-up, ethnographic perspective, the role of intersectional (class-based,occupational, gendered, racialized regional and national) ecologically-positioned embodiedsubjectivities and identities and their emotional lived experience remains to be considered.

This PhD thesis, set within the concerns of a transdisciplinary environmental and energy humanitiesframework, addresses this lacunae in the context of Poland; the most coal-dependent country in theEuropean Union where a pro-coal platform unexpectedly helped the far-right populist party Lawand Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) into majority government in 2015. It is primarily based on ayears’ ethnographic research conducted in 2017 with both residents and particularly coal miners andtheir families in a minescape in Upper Silesia, the nation’s, and one of Europe’s, last remainingmining heartlands. Adopting a postcolonial postsocialist perspective, and drawing on rare empiricaldata from participant observation and qualitative interviews, the thesis explores the politics ofincreasingly ‘dirty’ coal expressed in localized conflicts over air pollution, domestic heating, andthe meaning of work, dignity, respectable personhood, the economy and community, setting themwithin their historical context. The rapidly shifting material and symbolic meaning of coal withinthe context of Silesia’s long-standing troubled history is particularly studied in light of Europeanintegration, a post-industrial, neoliberal, ‘green’-cosmopolitan project that links East and West in anunequal relationship. The naming of coal and its way of life as increasingly ‘dirty’ in newlystigmatizing senses from ‘outside’, is found to be experienced by the mining community as an eliteimposedprocess of ecological dispossession. This generates a toxic intersectionally-andecologically-mediated shame in the bodies of those that particularly labour intimately with itsmaterial touch; a shame that resonates with what this thesis terms industrial populist politics and itsemotive charge as a felt common sense. In the postsocialist context of the marginalization anddevaluation of industrial working-class lives, and pervasive and normalized orientalist classismexperienced as an attack on one’s ecologically-enmeshed Silesian-Polishness, the relational longingfor a sense of a purified home, that can cleanse dirt’s discomforting and shame-inducing stigmas inoverlapping economic, social, cultural and environmental terms by refusing and reversing itsdesignation, is proposed as lying at the heart of industrial populism’s visceral draw.

Abstract [sv]

Under andra halvan av 2010-talet fick högerextrema populistiska partier allt större makt ochinflytande runt om i Europa så väl som i världen. En kärnpunkt i deras etnonationalistiska, antielitäraagenda och känslomässiga politik har ofta varit ett försvar av fossila bränslen vilket utgjortett hot mot åtgärder för att ta itu med klimatkrisen och även väckt fascismens spöke till liv. I allthögre grad uppfattas kol som ’smutsigt’. Denna råvara, som möjliggjorde den moderna industriellavärldsordningen och bidrog mest till dess växande motsättningar, har fått en särskild status i samtidahögerextrem ideologi. Vilka känslomässiga samband finns mellan kol och politik i en tid avlångtgående ekonomisk, miljömässig och energimässig instabilitet och förändring då kolet inte barahåller på att förlora sitt materiella värde och sin symboliska koppling till moderniteten, utan ocksåalltmer anses vara rent av omoraliskt?

Hittills har studier av den högerextrema populismens uppgång till stor del förbisett betydelsen avförändringar inom energi och miljö. Det återspeglar att dessa frågor övervägande har behandlatssom tekniska, och därför inriktats på vetenskaplig expertis, snarare än att erkännas som i grundensociala, kulturella och politiska. Studier av extremhögern har vanligen fokuserat på en makronivåoch har inte till fullo behandlat de historiskt, geografiskt och kulturellt platsbetingade faktorernabakom denna framgång, särskilt bland den (vita, manliga) industriarbetarklassen. Från ettetnografiskt perspektiv återstår att beakta den roll som spelas av intersektionella (klassbaserade,yrkesmässiga, könsrelaterade, rasifierade, regionala och nationella) och ekologiskt placeradförkroppsligade subjektiviteter, identiteter och deras känslomässigt erfarna förhållanden.

Denna doktorsavhandling om ’smutsigt kol’ i Polen har en tvärvetenskaplig miljö- ochenergihumanistisk ram. I Polen, det mest kolberoende landet i Europeiska unionen, kunde dethögerextrema populistiska partiet Lag och Rättvisa (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) oväntat bilda enmajoritetsregering 2015 på en kolvänlig politisk plattform. Avhandlingen vilar på ett års etnografiskforskning, genomförd 2017 i ett gruvdistrikt i Övre Schlesien. Forskningen omfattade såvälkolgruvearbetare och deras familjer som övriga invånare berörda av smog. Övre Schlesien utgör ettav Polens och Europas sista kvarvarande kärnområden för kolbrytning.

Avhandlingen tillämpar ett postkolonialt och postsocialistiskt perspektiv för att undersöka det’smutsiga kolets’ politik. Denna tar sig uttryck i lokala konflikter om luftföroreningar, uppvärmningav bostäder och innebörden av begrepp som arbete, värdighet, respekt, person, ekonomi ochsamhälle. Med hjälp av information från deltagande observation och kvalitativa intervjuer beskriveravhandlingen kolets skiftande materiella och symboliska betydelse under Schlesiens oroligamoderna historia. Kolet studeras särskilt i ljuset av den europeiska integrationen, ett postindustriellt,nyliberalt – och ”grönt” - kosmopolitiskt projekt som förbinder öst och väst i ett ojämliktförhållande. Av gruvarbetarna uppfattas detta som en av eliten påtvingad process av ekologisktmotiverad nedmontering av deras ursprungliga livsbetingelser. Att kalla kol och därmedgruvsamhällenas traditionella levnadssätt ’smutsiga’ och att ’utifrån’ tillföra kol nya stigmatiserandebetydelser har skapat en känslomässig laddning av intersektionellt förmedlad skam hos dem somarbetar med kol. Denna kroppsligt burna och erfarna skam står i samklang med det som i dennaavhandling kallas en industripopulistisk politik, som av dessa grupper upplevs som den rimliga. Idet postsocialistiska sammanhanget, nedvärderas och marginaliseras industriarbetarklassens liv pådetta sätt och socialt utbredda, normaliserade och orientalistiskt klassgrundade fördomar upplevssom angrepp på ens ekologiskt placerade Schlesiskt-polska identitet. Därmed uppstår längtan efterixen känsla av ett förädlat (purified) hem, som kan befria människorna från smutsensskamframkallande stigmatisering vad gäller ekonomiska, sociala,kulturella och miljömässigaperspektiv. Gruvsamhällenas avvisande av kolets föregivna ’smutsighet’ och deras omdefiniering avkolets innebörd står på så sätt i nära förbindelse med den industriella populismens dragningskraft.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2021. p. 502
Series
TRITA-ABE-DLT ; 2134
Keywords
coal, populism, Poland, Silesia, environmental humanities, postsocialism
National Category
History of Technology Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-301741 (URN)978-91-7873-964-6 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-10-01, Register in advance for this meeting: https://kth-se.zoom.us/meeting/register/u5wlduqqrTooHdJjC1CpG2i8pT-ELN0brMlH, Stockholm, 16:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Projects
Environmental Humanities ENHANCE Marie Curie ITN
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020
Note

If you would like to contact the author, you can reach her on: irma_allen@hotmail.co.uk

Available from: 2021-09-10 Created: 2021-09-10 Last updated: 2023-03-20Bibliographically approved
Kinga Allen, I. (2021). Heated Attachments to Coal: Everyday Industrial Breadwinning Petro-Masculinity and Domestic Heating in the Silesian Home. In: Gender and Energy Transition: Case Studies from the Upper Silesia Coal-mining Region (pp. 189-222). Springer Nature
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Heated Attachments to Coal: Everyday Industrial Breadwinning Petro-Masculinity and Domestic Heating in the Silesian Home
2021 (English)In: Gender and Energy Transition: Case Studies from the Upper Silesia Coal-mining Region, Springer Nature , 2021, p. 189-222Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In Upper Silesia, domestic heating is a heated topic. This is because it is the leading contributor to extreme air pollution levels. Coal of assorted qualities is combusted in over 70% of the country’s 5.5 million single-family households for heating, often in ‘primitive’ boilers or stoves that do not fulfil any environmental standards. Accordingly, 33 out of 50 of the most air-polluted towns in Europe are found in Poland; fourteen in Upper Silesia. Efforts to solve the crisis have focused on incentivizing rational household-level technical and behavioural changes. Yet, results have been slow and largely unsuccessful. This chapter argues that the role of historically and culturally sedimented gendered subjectivities have been overlooked in understanding this phenomenon. In Silesian intergenerational coalmining families, coal-based home heating is traditionally the responsibility of the male breadwinner. In turn, embodying its dirty work has long been a primary route for attaining domestic masculinity, securing its patriarchal authority and integrity and acceptably expressing its familial love and care. Drawing together Cara Daggett’s concept ‘petro-masculinity’ with Martin Hultman and Paul Pulé‘s notion of ‘industrial/breadwinning masculinities’, denial of smog discourse and attachment.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Springer Nature, 2021
National Category
Energy Engineering History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-332155 (URN)10.1007/978-3-030-78416-4_11 (DOI)2-s2.0-85147903770 (Scopus ID)
Note

Part of ISBN 9783030784164 9783030784157

QC 20230721

Available from: 2023-07-21 Created: 2023-07-21 Last updated: 2023-07-21Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. (2020). Thinking with a Feminist Political Ecology of Air-and-breathing-bodies. Body & Society, 26(2), 79-105
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thinking with a Feminist Political Ecology of Air-and-breathing-bodies
2020 (English)In: Body & Society, ISSN 1357-034X, E-ISSN 1460-3632, Vol. 26, no 2, p. 79-105Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social theory has paid little attention to air, despite its centrality to bodily existence and air pollution being named the world’s biggest public health crisis. Where attention to air is found, the body is largely absent. On the other hand, conceptualizing the body without life-sustaining breath fails to highlight breathing as the ongoing metabolic bodily act in which the materiality of human and more-than-human intermingle and transmute one another. Political ecology studies how unequal power structures and knowledge production reproduce human–environment relations, including a nascent focus on the body and air – but as separate issues. This article argues that a political ecology of air would productively fuse with a political ecology of the body to bring the visceral realm into intersectional analysis of air’s contemporary materialities. A feminist political ecology situates explicitly air-and-breathing-bodies, their intimately posthuman, relational, elemental and corpomaterial intra-action, at the heart of such analysis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
SAGE Publications, 2020
Keywords
air, breath, breathing body, embodiment, feminist political ecology, posthuman
National Category
Social Anthropology Cultural Studies Gender Studies
Research subject
History of Science, Technology and Environment
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-276963 (URN)10.1177/1357034X19900526 (DOI)000532378400001 ()2-s2.0-85084418784 (Scopus ID)
Projects
ITN Marie Curie Environmental Humanities
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020
Note

QC 20200624

If you would like to contact the author, you can reach her on: irma_allen@hotmail.co.uk

Available from: 2020-06-20 Created: 2020-06-20 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. (2017). Poland on fire: voices from the provinces.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Poland on fire: voices from the provinces
2017 (English)Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
National Category
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-223754 (URN)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 642935
Note

QC 20180312

Available from: 2018-03-03 Created: 2018-03-03 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. (2017). Polen – ett land som står i brand. Dagens Nyheter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Polen – ett land som står i brand
2017 (Swedish)In: Dagens Nyheter, ISSN 1101-2447Article in journal, News item (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
National Category
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-223756 (URN)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 642935
Note

QC 20220419

Available from: 2018-03-03 Created: 2018-03-03 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. (2017). Solidarity according to Polish women in 2017.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Solidarity according to Polish women in 2017
2017 (English)Other (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.))
National Category
Social Anthropology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-223752 (URN)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 642935
Note

QC 20180312

Available from: 2018-03-03 Created: 2018-03-03 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. (2016). Fossil Capital: the rise of steam power and the roots of global warming [Review]. The Ecologist
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Fossil Capital: the rise of steam power and the roots of global warming
2016 (English)In: The EcologistArticle, book review (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
National Category
History of Technology
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-223758 (URN)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 642935
Note

QC 20180312

If you would like to contact the author, you can reach her on: irma_allen@hotmail.co.uk

Available from: 2018-03-03 Created: 2018-03-03 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. (2016). Så kan ångmaskinerna lära oss att förstå klimatförändringarna [Review]. Dagens Nyheter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Så kan ångmaskinerna lära oss att förstå klimatförändringarna
2016 (Swedish)In: Dagens NyheterArticle, book review (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
National Category
History of Technology
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-223757 (URN)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 642935
Note

QC 20180312

If you would like to contact the author, you can reach her on: irma_allen@hotmail.co.uk

Available from: 2018-03-03 Created: 2018-03-03 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Allen, I. & Kaijser, A. (2016). Vem ska offras för kolet?. Dagens Nyheter
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Vem ska offras för kolet?
2016 (Swedish)In: Dagens Nyheter, ISSN 1101-2447Article in journal, News item (Other (popular science, discussion, etc.)) Published
National Category
Other Humanities not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Energy Technology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-223755 (URN)
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020, 642935
Note

QC 20220412

Available from: 2018-03-03 Created: 2018-03-03 Last updated: 2022-06-26Bibliographically approved
Organisations
Identifiers
ORCID iD: ORCID iD iconorcid.org/0000-0001-8199-151x

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