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Lecture 6 June 2013, U Helsinki.
island
Aleksanterireading


Aleksanteri6/2Eeva Korteniemi, Planning Officer, was kind enough to show me around the Aleksanteri Institute, Finnish Centre for Russian and Eastern European Studies, independent institute of University of Helsinki, Finland for academic research. With training programmes and custom-made projects, the institute’s website details the offerings for researchers accessible here.

Fall 2010, I presented the annual Aleksanteri ConferenceFueling the Future, focusing on Russian energy politics. Since then I developed an interest in working with Aleksanteri on examining Western Expertise in constructing Russian energy futures.

Aleksanteri’s 2010 conference attracted academics and policy analysts from Russia, Western Europe, the United States, and marked an early experience for StudioPolar‘s PaparazziEthnographic blogging about the fleeting phenomena of events (links,  Day 3Day 2Day 1).

visit galleriaIn preparation for my lecture, Aleksanteri provided accommodation at Tööloö Towers, 20 minute walk from the Institute. Just inside the main entrance of the Institute is a table with Aleksanteri newsletter, copies of books published by Aleksanteri’s Kikimora press and pamphlets relating the goings on in the coming weeks.

doors wide open

talking westermark lectureThe materials provide evidence of scholarly events (upcoming lectures, visitors, exhibits), publications, and visiting researchers. A short informative brochure for visiting scholars details the Institute’s activities on networking within Finland on active cooperation with the international research community with a strong outreach agenda and a full events calendar.

lectureI picked up two books published through Kikimora press as casual reading, titled Business Entry in Eastern Europe, edited by Jan-åke Törnroos and Jarmo Nieminen, and Russian Greens in a Risk Society by Oleg Yanitsky, both weighing in at 300 pages each.

Yanitsky’s argument is illuminating, suggesting that reflexive modernization in Western Europe had existed already for decades in the USSR/Russia.

Screen Shot 2013-06-09 at 7.30.40 AMEeva’s engaging tour kept me on my toes!
mealdinnerlibrary
B & Bdinnerisland hopping

again hopping

map

ferrySpringtalkHelsoutsidereading and lying
I had the opportunity to attend their area studies discussion which took place on the first floor, in a cellar like room, with arched stone ceilings. The entire setting was mundane and yet seemed to be taken directly out of a cold war spy novel.

Imagine: academics meeting in a cellar of an Areas Studies institute in Helsinki to discuss methods on reformulating analysis of the east.Asp
church

Betti

pieIn the cellar, there was lively discussion about the topic, including use of the words imagination, geographical boundary lines, economic and institutions, memories of generations, real/consistent/pragmatic study, the reality of state socialism in the region – the “positive legacy” – high investment in human capital, great transformation from sovietism to capitalism and my favorite, “area studies is an applied science”.
horse meat My immediate feeling was agreement, but then I remembered that all science is applied, in the sense that science (more than peace itself), is simply politics by other means, a war machine.

We were also treated to the Finnish perspective to area studies, the politics of science and how it changes over time, and how institutes change or have a direct impact on research. One of the discussants mentioned three main developments/phases since the 1990s, within Finnish research. First, the economic collapse of the Soviet Union led to lack of market for Finnish goods, and realization of lack of knowledge about Russia and its influence on Finnish domestic politics. What had been Russian-Eastern European studies in the Finnish perspective was mainly about former Soviet Union. So the goal of first academic programs in the 1990s, within Finland, was to generate new scholarship.
meatmeaty A second phase, the mid-1990s, saw Finland joining the European Union (EU), and re-inventing a role for itself as the Russian expert in the EU and for mediating, having a new role, in the form of possessing wide spread knowledge about Russia and even disseminating the idea that Finns know about Russia, that they were the holy grail of Russia. A new attitude toward institutionalization of Russian studies, coordinating scholarship and education on Russian studies and eastern Europe.

Finally, a third turn, European crisis, and industry restructuring.

In the contemporary scholarly discourse, according to our discussion, there are three main agendas: 1-what perspective to take on Russia; 2- what it is worth; 3-how to do it.
soup

eating Here, the discussion became more arcane, with references to Finnlandization, a heated debate concerning scholarship accusations of being left wing, and turning against the transition of Russia with a critical tone, but then, in 2010, a post-Finlandization, where accusations turn upside down, with too mild a critique against Putin’s Russian. Moreover, Europe as a normative power approach, had an important impact on how Finnish scholarship should be interpreted, including the transfer of “our” ideas (human rights) to Russia, seen everywhere through the EU value systems.

A second agenda of contemporary debates revisits the Area Studies concepts themselves, with new words emerging, such as Eurasia (traveling concepts) – East is not only Russia, but more about Caucasian countries, Central Asia, China, an interconnectedness of things and geographies. The East is not just Russia anymore. Also, the North, that there is a Nordic dimension initiative, and how Russia is interconnected with the Northern region and Europe, and Arctic perspective. Reconceptualize Eastern Europe as such – euphemisms, east central, Balkan, Baltic, trying to avoid and maintain discussion – European studies that claims post socialist countries.
pie

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Commitment of Spring…



“You can watch spring coming”,
Eeva K. proclaimed upon unlocking the door to my new office.

springith

movement

greening

Full
Fullestimage

…visualized embodiments.

Spring


zumJuly mid
window scene
window



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St. Petersburg

5/19-25/ Intensive Energy Course


Many thanks to Laura Lakso for her editorial review!

Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 10.45.53 AM

мост

veli p.
train travel

Just to say — we had such a fabulous time (!) — …



energy profs

boris

exposed wall

Examining the Real and the Authentic (!) — …



findlanski dom

jazz bar

Laura et al.

Allowing the Sun to Fade into Zum (!) — …



Tapani5/20-25: Our session began with an introduction and welcoming remarks by FINEC’s (St. Petersburg State University of Economic and Finance) Rector’s assistant Alexandra Drugova. We then heard from economist, Pavel Metelev, on principles of energy economics, basically, an introduction classical economics and the global energy mix.

brickI refer to his speech verbatim: Neoclassical economics is about scarcity – about how we manage to allocate scarce resources.

All resources are scarce.

International economics is how we allocate scarce resources on the national level. If it is not scarcity it is not economics. Economics is the social science that analyzes the production distribution (transportation) and consumption. General discussion on the economics of John Maynard Keynes.

therePavel proceeded with principles by N. Gregory Mankiw: NeoClassical economics does not work in real life, created in a frictionless world. Not an exact science, more like philosophy. So, social tests do not replicate well.

10 principles.

People face trade-offs (environment vs. high level income or efficiency vs quality); opportunity cost—cost of something is what we give up to get it (building a pipeline vs what could be built); rational people think on the margin; people respond to incentives; trade can make everyone better off; markets are usually a good way to organize economic activity; government can sometimes improve market outcomes; a country standard of living depends on the ability to produce goods and services; prices rise when government prints more money; Friedrich List, infant industry theory. Ideas influence people.

TapaniTurning now to Neo-institutional economics. Keynes – and the first period of natural gas. Regulation. Industries will work efficiently under government control. Competition- second period of natural gas. Transportation is natural monopoly in Russia but not in European Paradigm – public monopoly.
 Paradigm – competition. All ideas are temporary – risk bearing is primary.

Principle. Theory of the firm (transactional costs). Property rights – the most important institution– sets the criterion of efficiency. With competition you can do incredible things.

drinksConstantine Leshenko –
Creating markets for energy – stimulating consumption to get folks hooked on energy (Rockefeller giving out oil lanterns, etc.).
Uses of energy.

Now up is the main instructor, Aleksanteri wizard, Tapani Kaakkuriniemi, giving a history of the object.

blurBaku—1848 first oil wells drilled. First mechanically drilled oil wells in the world, growing demand for paraffin in Russian Empire. USA production started 13 years after Baku. Every day phenomena how to light the room.

Oil lamps were being developed on the basis of paraffin. Tens of years with quite modest oil market to develop.

When the findings were repeated in the same area, and more oil was seen as available, engineers began creating refining industries, in Baku and USA. 1858 first refinery in Canada (oils springs, Ontario). 1861 first paraffin factory in Baku, 1867 15 oil refineries and by 1873 already 50 in the Apsheron oil field, Baku.

T manIn the 1880s oil production in Baku was outstripping the oil industry of  USA moving toward modern capitalist production. 1898 Azerbaijani oil industry exceeded the US production level 8 million tons were produced. 1904 Baku kerosene supplied 47 percent of the needs of Britain and 71 percent of the needs of France. 1884 Council of Baku oil producers –
1) protection of the oil producers interests in government bodies 
2) provision of high profits to the oil magnates
 3) establishment of opposition to labor movement

beerFour main companies in Baku: Branobel (Nobel brothers); Russian General Corporation; Transnational Trust Royal Dutch Shell; financial oil corporation Neft; Caspian-Black Sea Society. Motives of oil production in Baku. –Business opportunities
Development of capitalist mode of production.

Modernization of Russian society
. Tax revenue
 Competitive with American producers, 
Formation of European oil market.

classRussian developments. 1963—Glavtyumenneftegas and Glavtyumenneftegastroy were established
; 1972 the construction of the biggest national oil pipeline Samotlor-Almetyevsk commenced.

1970s focus of energy production moved from the Caspian sea to Central Western Siberia. 
1984 USSR became the number 1 gas producer. 1984 transcontinental gas pipeline Western Siberia Western Europe was opened in the final phase. Its length exceed 20,000km.

Problem 1 necessity to upgrade oil and gas complex by implementation of advanced technologies; Problem 2 social problems onrush growth of local population so social estimation was made. Motives of energy production in Siberia. 
Growing demand at home
. Rapid industrialization. 
Development of technology
. Extensive growth only (no intensive growth or efficiencies)
. Showing expertise in extreme condition. s
Exploration of the effects of permafrost
. Superpower aspirations

also bar[What are my own principles now that the topic arises?

• Alliance between theoretical and structural positions;

• Techniques reduction of complexity to kinds of simplicity that serve the basis of decision making;

• Create forms of communication that facilitate collusion;

• Markets are future oriented while regulation is historically situated]

Barents sea region
 Arctic Wells (website) –Dec. 2012 “Norway’s licensing round has attracted strong interest from the oil industry, with 36 companies bidding for offshore exploration blocks located mainly north of the Arctic circle”.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy is due to announce the results before the summer of 2013. Out of 86 blocks to be awarded, 72 are located in the Barents Sea, the most northern of which are between the 74th and the 75th parallel.

Putin 2012 “development work at the field would begin in 2017”

preparationsgroup photoMohammed Zakri– vice president for Total’s upstream activities in Russia, said he had no doubt “an engineering solution to produce it” would be found.

In Yamal, harsh climate conditions have compelled Gazprom to test new solutions. Utilization of integrated production infrastructure for gas extraction; heat insulated pipes for wells construction and operation with a view to preventing the permafrost rocks thawing; reduction in the number of monitoring wells through combined monitoring over development of various deposits in wells; new welding technologies and materials; brand new energy saving equipment with an efficiency coefficient equal to 36-40 percent.

mapShtokman gas field. According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, the resources of Russia’s continental shelf comprise 13 billion tonnes for oil and 20 trillion cubic meters of gas. The Shtokman field is the world biggest undeveloped offshore gas field.

Its reserves are estimated at 3,800 billion cubic meters just over the 2010 global gas demand. Problem of the Russian-Norwegian border was solved 4 years ago. Or was it?

Marina A. Zen’ko – Contemporary Yamal Ethnoecological and ethnosocial problems in anthropology and archaeology of Eurasia, Spring 2004, vol. 42, no 4, pp-7-83.

StatuesHere, Tapani refers to the works of Michael Ross –
1) Developing countries: there is loose money. 
Oil gas and mineral rich states collect great sums of easy money, loose money, the state is the main actor, it is difficult to avoid the temptation to present in security systems and surveillance, tendency to a police state and violence, connection to arms trade.

2) post industrial countries
– state promotes drilling extraction through state-owned companies, or lets private corporations (Norway) to manage the business (USA); Strong global corporations may steer state policies, impact to world trade order and the system of international relations; heterogeneity (cf, Norway, Britain).

3) Economies in transition– resources fueling new welfare, state as the main actor, either through state-owned companies, or letting MNCs to manage the production and gather profits, tendency to strengthen state power (Russia) tendency to authoritarian rule (Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan), Increasing power through networking

LightsPavel Metelev, again, Returns for another lecture. Recommends “free to choose” – economic show on internet. 10 parts. Globalization of gas markets – application of government approach, centralization, free market paradigm. Movie presenting Keynes and Hayak, rap, free market economics – fear of boom versus bust Keynes versus Hayak – rap. “lose the idea, lose the stimulus, you start to drink”— Production behavior. Redistribution or rent seeking behavior. To develop a good country favor an increased production behavior, but in fact Russia there is a rent seeking behavior.

borisCentral planned economics versus economic efficiency. You create the concept of efficiency.

Objective: create, increase, divide pie optimally and efficiently. Globalization – creates a global free market, where countries are actors. Measure of development – GDP that contributes to destroying the world.

Human development index, happiness index; Development – evolution of international trade theory. 
Resource allocation is very dynamic in nature. Endowments of natural factors. Influence of natural factors.

hermThe Tadeusz Rybczynski theorem – developed 1955 – Dutch Disease is the more complicated example of the Rybczynski theorem.

Energy and Government the two most important sectors in Russia. One profitable sector will destroy all other sectors. No incentive, not competition.

flameDiversification. Russia moves in inspiration-idea based strategies
. Modernization, Diversification, [innovation] Clusters.

[Make sure you talk about this. I break in and state: Spaces of intention – that were overlooked in United States, and then overnight you had natural gas production outside of its futures]. Diversification versus this system – collect money and diversification.
 Dutch disease – stuck in the Rot effect. Inherited industries that are not competitive.

the hatbar naughtGas – from German word “Ghosen” ghost.
 From greek word “chaos”. Associated gas – selling gas to Gazprom was cheaper than the infrastructure to sell the gas, easier to flare it than pay the fine. But no longer. Different types of gas. Global exports 80 percent exports. 20 percent LNG exports.

Energy Uncertainty–
Uncertain futures. Nuclear energy; rapid depletion of main world fossil fuel energy deposits; environmental problems, generally related to the use of conventional sources of energy.

singingInability to optimally and efficiently meet the projected global energy demand in coming decades by the means of using conventional sources in energy. “New energy doctrine” – question of time, inevitable transition to new energy doctrine coming 50- 100 years. Transition period – what energy source – the growing uncertainty in the global energy market. Russian theory – during the 1980s developed the idea of a “gas bridge” as a transition period to renewables.

ladiesImprove efficiency of power generation, reduce CO2. “Golden age of Gas IIEA report”. Global Gas Market —Transition to this golden age of gas pushes forward the process of gradual integration of different regional natural gas markets. As the result the integration process should lead to creation of global gas distribution system. Global oil markets exist—free pricing, flexibility of supply and market liquidity. Lower transaction costs. Clean Coal – versus natural gas. LNG – Shale gas.

Indeed only LNG is able to change this regional paradigm mostly based on bulky pipeline projects. Therefore, LNG is the main driving force and the main impetus of globalization of gas markets. 32 percent of LNG – transition from regional to global.

docentUp now, we have the talented Olga Garanina
, economist talking about Dutch Disease (Russian Case) – Theories of resource dependency; 
Energy exports are really important for countries – 66% for Russia even more dramatic for ME exporting countries, Venezuela.

90% for some countries.Imports of oil big for western states are big- 30%
 Dynamics of oil prices are volatile – speculation of financial markets. But predictions are important for export countries.

photosResource dependency – 1950 Hans Singer, terms of trade for primary commodity exporters have a tendency to decline. If a country is exporting raw materials – developing countries have a disadvantage position in world trade, because price of raw materials is declining, so they will have weaker results in growth—but does not work in comparison to oil/gas because the price is not going down.

Dutch disease — 
Discovery of new natural resources a boom in prices leads to negative consequences of other tradable sectors, leads to destruction of other internal industries.

awardsImports start to compete with internal production leading to decline of diversity in production. Longer term affects – resource curse.

Resource curse
 caused by diversions of financial resources. Rybnmjinsky theorem
. Theory which allows us to understand international trade. Country can have in abundance endowment in labor, resources. Depending on what, it will export whatever good that it uses its abundant factor intensively. How changes in country’s endowment will affect its production structure will evolve. Capital, qualified labor, non qualified labor. Dutch disease: (1982 Cordon and Neary).

Manufacture of tradables, energy; Manufactory sector will sink, because of the resource sector; Dutch disease in Russia 
Currency, profitability in sectors in economy.

GroupgroupingUp now we have Tapani – speaking on renewables.
 Renewable energies. And now Pavel Metelev 
on General Questions – Shale gas. Shale gas exploration in Poland. Energy General Concepts. How we count energy – btu = some other equivalents; 1 toe = 41.87 gigajoules. Primary energy, secondary energy. People recognize that we are undergoing a transitions, and that there is a certain inevitability in that. And that folks know and are willing to know, that is the issues.


dom

Olga Garanina is now up talking about 
Russian energy strategy.
 Adopted in 2009. Major problems in the field of energy security (according to energy strategy 2030); High degree of fixed assets depreciation in the fuel and energy complex; Low level of investments in the development of the fuel and energy complex; Sole dependence of the Russian economy and its energy sector on natural gas; (underdevelopment) Failure of the industrial potential of the fuel and energy complex to match the world scientific and technical level, including in terms of environmental standards; Slow development of the energy infrastructure in the Eastern Siberia and Far East; Prepared policy as national strategy – National energy plan. Legislation to make something happen.

blurry[Another thing: When you look at the image of the “pipe timeline forecast”, you can say several things about it—that it is focused on production, that it is not focused on consumption, there are no prices for its consumption. Just that it would get built and people would come. This is really important. You want to interrogate the actual time, and what the time is actually saying! Go back to the original PPTs, and look at them closely. It is a particular kind of path dependency]. Communicating development, communicating futures. Communicating growth. Communicating knowledge of the future. – and the interests that accrue.

Okay. Now up we have Veli-Pekka Tynkkynen, U Helsinki, Geographer. Natural resource use and environmental research and environmental planning. Aleksanteri (Tampere included, international relations) – Finnish center of excellence. 7 years funding mechanism.

barrelsHigh standard project.

Looking at Russian program and academic discussion of modernization. What it means in Russia and how it is built—
Clusters
(1)Diversification of economy. Energy plays a role in diversification of society

(2) How does Russia move to a market society given its pact with society as an authoritarian policy and practices.

(3) Welfare regime – the standard that people ask of the state increases, funding issues and price of oil.

(4) Considers foreign policy, how it wants to be seen on the international arena, condition of soft power. 
(5) rationality and culture – historical roots of Russian thinking—attitudes and stakes.

boris–First cluster—research on energy policy research. Markku Kivinen and Pami Aalto. A model for considering energy policy situation.

Describing the energy policy formation – and does it in a very proficient way, characterizing the framing, structuring and mind set conditions – of looking at a microscopic view of the project. Energy policy formation. – Ends up reproducing the policy process or changes the policy.

Cluster one – energy policy. Veli Pekka’s interest: Can Russia become an environmentally sound position. Environmental issues between EU and Russia, energy trade and dialogue. Social and environmental responsibility issues. Environmentally sound energy transport on the Baltic Sea.

bookRussian electricity energy markets. And the electricity sector. Does Russia suffer from Resource curse or not? Is energy sector the main actor that should modernize Russia. Climate change denial – between Russia and America. Climate doctrine versus policy. How strategy as a tool is understood in Russia. Russian Energy and Security up to 2030 Routledge November 2013.

everyoneEnergy Trade 
Dependencies and interdependencies in EU – Russia energy trade; Strategy: Consumption and export issues.
Goal, substituting domestic consumption of hydrocarbon by increasing the use of coal, nuclear power and RES in order to export hydrocarbons. Enhancing energy efficiency promotes objectives set on exports. 75% of oil (60% of crude exported (production 500 mt/y), 85% to the EU; 30 % of gas exported, 75% to EU
30 % of coal exported, 70% to EU
1.5 % electricity exported, 80% to Finland. Russia’s pricing strategies:
Oil export volume more important than price
–Urals Europe’s primary oil brand during the 1990s and 2000s. again wallest 2010Gas: Export price more important than volume
–Russian gas has become the most expensive baseload energy sources on the European market during the 2000s. Electricity export price more important than volume
–from 2012 — RAQ UES has sold to Finland (RAO Nordic) not the maximum volume but reduced flow during peak hours. Get overall understanding of geopolitical issues related to pipeline policy. EU energy relations— Energy Superpower; Geopolitical objectives. Gazovyi Imperator (2010) – journalist advocating energy superpowerness.

girlsFriday — Veli-Pekka.
 Environment in the EU-Russia energy relations; Environment and EU-Russia energy dialogue. Energy Dialogue started in 2000, legal basis in 1997 “EU-Russia agreement on partnership and cooperation”. Between 2001-2004 the environmental dimension of energy was explicitly on the agenda thematic group on Energy Efficiency and the Environment.

churchAfter 2004 the environment disappears as an explicit agenda thematic group on Energy Efficiency – focus on the economy and climate change mitigation. Energy Sector modernization as an umbrella—gas flaring reduction and promotion of renewable energy as specific tools.

Flaring of gas from space. Russia’s flaring reduction policy; Environmental NGOs— Why research on governmentalities in the Russian energy sector is interesting… from democracy “trap” to modernization and ecological “traps”.

Presentations –

imagePoland
 — Raili Virtanen, Kai Raotsalainen, + : 
Dependency on Russian gas; Finland requires alternatives. Poland, wants to become an independent supplier, energy strategy. Doing business together, bigger role in European market, provide gas and other energy types to energy types and EU. And not dependent on one country. We have approx. 800 billion cubic meters on Shale gas. Since Finland would benefit the most as the first country. Compared to Russian gas, shale gas would be cheaper. Both members of EU. We have a few options. Shale Inc. was evaluated as the best company. Environment was an important part of our decision, and coal is used – and shale gas is dangerous but the shale company is transparent and open and risks. More ecological than coal.

Two questions – export of Poland, what are you plans about building export capacity. Social acceptability of increasing gas production in Poland. Increasing share of gas in Poland energy mix may have some negative consequences for coals consumption – what is your social strategy for unemployment in coal. We are discussing possible energy projects in trade – rapid expansion could increase social risks from reductions in labor.

upstairsGreen Peace
 — Leena Fedotov, Tino Aalto: Ground water contamination – statistics — pPrivate company cannot take care about our drinking water. In the United States that have complained about ground water production – Government must control the groundwater – include that the company requires some kind of technical capacities. Contamination will kill people. Government must have tight control over tax production, and that revenue sharing for local communities. Energy Strategy. Besides energy development – we should be moving toward renewable panels. Solar would be better. So we should start relying on solar panels.

pivoWe have heard that you have an interest in revenue sharing for local communities from production of gas – do you have any specific proposals to promote renewable energy. We are concerned that government use of funds are not the most capable of incentivizing business activity.

diagramRussia — 
We will present the worlds largest exporter of natural gas, Gazprom. Present a long term contract – economic terms of buying our gas. We now have a competitor from Poland, accountability and reliability. Accountability in securing supply and appreciate your past commitments. We have been thinking of creating closer ties to the European Union, perhaps through NATO establishing military installations in Finland, primarily for dealing with threats of ballistic missiles from the middle east.

We wanted to be ensure that Russian government would be committed to accountability in terms of security of supply. How would you ensure to us that you would not use energy as a weapon to discourage our tightened relationship with Western Europe.

ceilingsShale gas Inc — 
Drilling technique without environmental hazards. We implement in 5 areas of rural America – Liberalization of economy, shale law will follow market law, dealing with environmental hazards. Flexibility of contracts. Unfortunately –  a long a cold winter in Finland.
 C02.shot

 

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helsinki

lights

newimage


5/4: Walking out of KAAPELI, a refurbished cable factory now cultural center (galleries, artists, companies) in Helsinki’s former industrial district.


The Dr.

factory



Industrial facility [reduced]

hut









Tropical hut [enlarged]





Catching a rail line back to center of town, we became startled by an imposing industrial facility, in contrast to the exhibit — from which we had just then departed– of miniature tropical huts hand-crafted by pre-teen architectural students, including one designed by the son of Dr. Katri Pynnöniemi.

Here before you, above, are two buildings in proximate size to each other, so as to appear in less dramatic scale. The exhibited hut is now a place to live, while the facility has a bite-size quality.


shotIt was Recycling Day at KAAPELI, an annual festivity when shopkeepers display dresses, scarfs, accessories, made of recycled materials– and an appropriate venue for Katri and my discussion about consumption practices and the critical infrastructure that makes our way of life at all possible.

clothingFor some time–looking as we have done, across the Arctic, at newer homes in Fairbanks, Alaska, whose only source of heat is the reliability of electrical power, and in Nuuk, Greenland, practically a lunar-based facility totally dependent upon the goodwill of technicians to go to bed at a descent hour–we have been thinking about high-reliability in critical infrastructure systems.

This is especially the case now, with climate change on its continued march.

There are resettlement concerns, changes to permafrost composition, new requirement codes for building construction, regulatory changes in oil and gas extraction activities to accommodate shorter winter seasons —  well, the possibilities for research are gi-normous.

coffee
zippersAnd it was on the cusp of entering into a new thought about this type of study, with its emphasis on large technical systems and the role of security in provisioning and powering the everyday geographies of life.

For example, say, in the context of mass transportation, forms of settlement, mobility through which life is lived — geographies of work, shopping, transportation, various natural environmental contexts surrounding them.

It is in this context that, as mentioned below, naturally, Dr. Katri Pynnöniemi’s recent work on critical systems came to mind and for which I planned to bend her hear during our walk through KAAPELI, glancing and touching the various recycled products now on display. hall

What we understand as critical systems are the material structure and observing qualities capable of drawing attention to points around which these systems function as critical to provisioning a way of life, what we might call (deep breath) “culture”.

ties






huts




Recounting our discussion, I was a bit enthusiastic to tell my side of the story. Nevertheless, we discovered some intersections.

For example, Katri is considering to examine how arctic communities in Russia, continuing to rely on government subsidies of provisioning oil-based fuel systems for energy production, deal with the transition to more commercial reliance, whether shifting the burden to private companies, or just characterizing the very logics of a system itself that delivers its all encompassing risk to itself and which has existed for decades in the shadow of a nascent reflexive modernization emerging outside Russia.

At any rate, we look forward to catching up with Katri again soon. Stay tuned!

kidsnow


5/2: Blew into Helsinki.

Enjoyed reading Dr. Katri Pynnöniemi‘s new edited volume on Critical Systems and have since made arrangements to meet with her for lunch this coming Saturday, 4 May, to discuss future research perspectives.

aleksanteriscene

scene


Join us 2PM at Hima & Sali Restaurant for lunch and coffee.

Instructions how to get there.



aerostrip It was in Stockholm, some days ago, actually, that Dr.name recommended reading her new publication titled Russian Critical Infrastructures, Finnish Institute for International Affairs, Report No. 35, during a coffee break of the Arctic Security workshop, then taking place inside the Swedish Art Gallery, just a block from the Sheraton Hotel.



Russian Critical Infrastructures available in PDF here
Katri Pynnöniemi’s website for publications here.


This pamphlet, just over 100 pages, pin points our next project: “While it is possible to recognize a resemblance at the terminological and conceptual level, this does not yet indicate that the actual risk management practices are the same. Further research is required to open up the underlying discursive (and concrete) practices that influence the implementation of [critical infrastructure] policy” (emphasis added p. 51).
reading
flighttarmac

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10/29: 8:50 PM. The conference is over. Our path toward understanding, for which we traveled across far-flung places, has once again left us individually standing in the dark. Still, we depart alone, but also stay united. It is our zeal for an idea, a belief in what remains enlightened.

6:56 PM. “Closing ceremony: looking back, moving forward: trajectories for continuing research on the Russian energy sector” — this is the title as it appears in the program to call attention to the end of the three-day conference (with the one exception, that we have decided to not capitalize each letter, as the organizers have done so in the conference program). Recently PhD minted and conference organizer David Dusseault is on stage in the Small Hall auditorium at this very moment, a charismatic political scientist whose nor’easter accent provides a welcomed staccato of punctuation to the boxes and tables that appear in his power point images. We are now very close to applauding ourselves for the past three days of intense, informative and friendly discussion and awaiting who will have the last word…

5 PM. Inside the University of Helsinki’s Main Hall, where the conference is taking place, we find ourselves spending time among statues of the classical world. There they stand, the men and women of the ancients, on the steps between the panel rooms, located across the balcony halls, we come face to face with these early ancestors. The very contrast by standing among these prior cosmopolitans and our discussions of the politics and policies of modern energy systems, reminds us of the contrasts between today’s energy requirements and those of the early world. As Vaclav Smil poses the issue in his 2000 article available in the Annual Review of Energy: the amount of power available to today’s affluent American household was only possible (but without the convenience and convertibility) for an owner of a Roman latifundia of 6000 slaves. Can you imagine.

3:00 PM. Time now for a networking break, as everyone heads out to the caffein bar for more BTUs in order to get through the final half of the day. We should mention here that — as we were leaving the auditorium, and pausing for a photo op to include, in addition to Dr. Cui and Master’s student of diplomacy Scott Milgroom, the very intriguing British ex pat in Moscow Ian Pryde, who is founder and chairman of Eurasia Strategy and Communication — the importance  of empires in decline, which as Ian reminded us, that it was not so long ago, that Britain faced its own loss of national self-esteem after World War II, and that in Russia, in the context of a comment that we had made yesterday about global Russians returning to Moscow, there is today, in cosmopolitan Russia, attempts to recapture that earlier pride through establishment of incubation parks to woo the newly educated Russians arriving home from the West.

And this was, in fact, the very topic of the well presented talk by Dr. Nikita Lomagin of St. Petersburg State University, Russia, who suggested that perception of self in today’s Russia is quite important, and that the willingness to be viewed positively, or rather, the question of how to demonstrate that you are important revolves around energy. The importance of energy security, and more clearly, defining ones strength as a petro-state, was created in Russia through a state programatic developing out of the 1990s that would focus on strengthening position of strategic markets in Europe, diversification of these markets, investments in Russian infrastructure, stimulating local consumption, and access to new technologies in all stages of the production chain. And this, according to Dr. Lomagin, defines energy security in Russia today– security that is as much a part of development and protection of economy as it is promoting and protecting imperial consciousness.

1:30 PM. One point Dr. Sherr made during his key note speech this morning, which we found interesting, was that, in energy as in most other spheres, it is remarkable, that Russia is able to compartmentalize its relationship with China. And moreover, the ideas that dominate Russia’s concern are primarily those dealing with the relationship of Russia to EU and the United States. And with these thoughts in our minds, so it was, that we also found interesting the key note provided by Professor Shoujun Cui of Renmin National University, Beijing, China, who delivered quite a few common sense understandings about pipeline politics in the context of Russian, Chinese, and central Asian pipeline transport systems. Dr. Cui posed the question of whether natural gas pipelines should head West from the Caspian basin, including from Russia, toward Europe which will experience low economic growth rates in the future — (of which two are already proposed and referred to as the Nabucco project from Turkmenistan and South Stream from Russia, but in fact are in zero sum competition westward) or, would it not be best for pipes from, say Turkmenistan, to flow eastward to connect up with the China Central Asia pipeline.

Let us interject, from our own humble perspective, that there must be incredibly confident forecasts for economic growth and demand of natural gas existing in China to continue to build and connect the long distance pipes westward of which Dr. Cui speaks. From our point of view, in the North American context, where the incremental gas demand market in many cases would prefer to destroy demand rather than plop down the multibillion dollar figures necessary for connecting Arctic gas to the pipeline grid structure (and even where announcement to build would destroy the price for natural gas), there must really be something going on in the East Pacific. It may be time to enroll in those Chinese language classes we always find ourselves joking about. Dr. Cui suggested to us, as a partial answer, that the authoritarian government allows for making long-term energy decisions, whereas a U.S. legislator’s horizon is only as far as the next election.

9:45 AM. Key note speaker, James Sherr, Senior Fellow, Russia and Eurasia Programme, Chatham House (“funded by the foreign office and the Rothschild’s, and set up in the 1930s” according to a conference attendant who wants to remain anonymous), London, began speaking this morning to a largely empty auditorium. Apparently, revelers of the conference last night kept him up at the bars until the wee hours, and could themselves, not make his 8:30 AM talk. Nevertheless, even by his own admission, of having to operate today on two-and-a-half hours sleep, he gave a provocative speech on Russian energy policy internally and abroad over the coming decades. Even Alexey Gromov, Deputy Director-General of the Institute for Energy Strategy in Russia, who has taken the lead in pointing out fundamental misperceptions students of Russian energy policy often make, gave Sherr his enthusiastic approval (photo on the right, Sherr in middle and energy expert, Vladimir Paramonov on left).

If we can distill his lecture, and my apologies to Dr. Sherr in advance, into several dense points: (1) vertical power under Putin is misperceptive –and while there has been a fundamental change since the 1990s in relations between the Russian government and energy sector, moving from a situation in which money effectively bought power and privatized parts of the state, toward a reversal since 2003, where power buys money in the sense that the state simply takes property– in fact, real power is concentrated not solely in Putin himself, but in a small number of persons who derive their profits from the energy sector – while being linked closely to security services of the federation (i.e., no unitary actor in Russia); (2) there is a struggle taking place, within this circle, and which will mean much more than classical policy discussions as they take place in the EU, in the sense that the struggle over policy outcomes—answers to questions such as will the energy market become more flexible, more market driven, liberalized, etc.—will depend upon the protagonists engaged in their own struggle, and for those actors these tribulations will take precedent over the debate of modernization itself; (3) yes, modernization itself, what about modernity in the energy sector? It will be inhibited by specific structural features that are beyond the struggles of individuals—infirmity of property rights, lack of entrepreneurship acting independently from the state, strengths of personalities and weakness of state institutions, weakness of judicial order and rule of law – and these conditions will likely lead and strengthen conservatism (in addition, Russia’s likely recovery from the financial crisis), and even intensify the meaning of these struggles to which Sherr so passionately refers. Finally, when it comes to Europe in any event, Russia is proving to be effective at integrating its commercial aspects of its energy policy with its geopolitics, and this is especially the case in those instances, such as Ukraine, where Russian banks are further integrating that country toward becoming, what Alexey Gromov quipped during the Q and A period, a Russian domestic market.

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10/28: 5 PM. Despite the early start, beginning at 8 AM, and as it appears now, our plans to continue until 8 PM and then break up into groups heading for dinner at restaurants nearby, Aleksanteri conference participants continue to enthusiastically engage their paper presenters on the issues.

Minister of Economic Affairs for the Embassy of Sweden in Moscow, Martin Aberg, seen here smiling as evidence of the continued good mood, posed during a panel discussion on Russian institutional decision-making. A frequently asked question about the role of Putin in the energy industry: “If Putin is not all powerful, then what is he?” In a quick one sentence response, NUPI’s Director of Energy Program, Indra Overland, quipped: “Putin is most powerful person in a system in which he is still required to negotiate among actors in order to realize his interests”. NUPI stands for Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. The consulting firm, based in Oslo, Norway, was well represented here in Helsinki, by Indra and also by Jakub Godzimirski, Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Russian and Eurasian Studies, both of whom were happy to pose in front of our camera in this photo.

I actually met both Indra (on left) and Jakub at the Norwegian Research Council sponsored Petrosam Workshop this past June at the Radisson Hotel located at the Oslo Airport, Norway, where many of the themes taken up today, were also discussed in detail. Missing from the event here in Helsinki this week, but who almost accepted an invitation as a key note speaker, is the famous Russian natural gas guru and Director of Oxford Energy Institute in England, Jonathan Stern, giving the key note speech, in fact, at the Petrosam event in Oslo.

On that day, J. Stern did not fail to disappoint his audience, and in addition to focusing on a set of recent changes to fundamentals, which our Michael Bradshaw, seen here in a jovial mood, also pointed to yesterday, Stern offered a provocative set of comments about the declining state of academic knowledge on the oil and gas industry (but not in Norway), of which we will comment more about at a later date.

We had to chastise Doug Rogers for changing the photo on his university website, where he was seen looking out bravely over a Moscow sky line, but now faces the viewer in a headshot taken in his backyard. But we also cannot deny, especially speaking as anthropologists, that he gave a great presentation today, on the social and cultural faces of oil and gas. Rogers asked how do Russian oil companies legitimize their wealth to a national community that is often skeptical of that wealth? And then proceeded to awe us, despite the power point image projector not working correctly, and participants having to forego the earlier much more comfortable auditorium in exchange for a smaller more stuffy class room where we were now required to seat ourselves on what we can only describe as wooden benches akin to a churchly pew.

Rogers, in a casual style, suggesting a George Clooney-esque sensibility, made three points: (1) social and cultural projects (corporate responsibility) – have been a key way that Russian oil elites can and have aligned themselves with local elites; (2) this alliance often offers a good strategy to alleviate some of the local critiques of oil company wealth and (3) this strategy entails a political economy of public space, meaning that only those areas of oil development actually demand attention, while other areas, without oil resources, require less attention.

10/28: 2PM. Lunch time already? Several of the participants headed downstairs to the graduate commons cafeteria where we could order a variety of hot and cold dishes, including tofu-rice pilaf, which seemed to be a favorite among our group. You probably know everyone in this photo by now (Doug, Florian, Stephan), but there on the far right in front, is a photo of geographer Corey Johnson, who we mentioned having a great pre-conference conversation with about pipeline materiality and nomenclature.

We also had the grateful opportunity to have a very interesting discussion with Master’s student of International Studies at Finland’s University of Tampere, Laura Salmela, who of all things, happens to be doing very nearly the exact same kind of research in Russia that we are doing here at StudioPolar. We thus, had a very long discussion and came up with the idea that what we require is a systematic typology of methods for studying what we call the creation of communities of interpretation within the global energy industry. We have really, so many ideas on this topic, and as I mentioned to Laura, they are lying around in such a state of total fragmentation, but somewhat curiously, always manage to become coherent through inspired and experimental conversation, like a gust of wind that blows a sea of leaves into material structure, only to vanish again. We definitely need to get them down on paper.

And just as we’re putting our final thoughts down, Nicholas Koh has introduced himself to us, coming all the way from Singapore, and having just established at their National University, their very own Energy Studies Institute, which of all things, is interested in arctic natural gas development. Nicholas was kind enough to introduce us to the head of the institute, Dr. Hooman Peimani, speaking tomorrow on Russian energy exports from Central Asia, and who has graciously invited us to contribute a chapter to a forthcoming book sponsored by their institute on arctic energy policy. Here they both are, Nicholas and Hooman.

10/28: 11 AM. This morning began with two separate panels, of which we participated on one titled Coexistence of Russian Hydrocarbon Extraction and Marginalized Livelihoods: Theory and Practice. The panel was chaired and organized by Florian Stammler, anthropologist and Senior Researcher at Arctic Centre, University of Lapland. Florian, who is part of the Anthropology Research Team there, which he co-founded, is shown here in this photo, standing on the left next to Stephan Dudek, a social anthropologist and researcher at the Max Planck Institute, Frankfurt, who is also part of our panel.

I took this photo yesterday, at the beginning of the conference, where I also had the chance to thank Florian for inviting me to participate on his panel this morning. I first met Florian in 2008 in Tromsø, Norway, at the Arctic Frontiers conference, where we also met Simon-Erik Ollus, who I shared a latte with yesterday and mentioned earlier. At the 2008 conference, Florian gave a spectacular presentation on human relationships between reindeer herders in Western Siberia and the local oil workers. It was in front of a full crowd in a beautiful auditorium that was built recently in Tromsø and called the Polar Centre. And we just happen to still have a photo which we took at that event.

Actually, that Arctic Frontiers conference was quite spectacular, if I may digress for a moment. The conference took place at the beginning of International Polar Year, and invited to participate were early career researchers, where after the conference, several newly minted PhDs led by professors at University of Tromsø, boarded a Norwegian Cruiser and spent several days on the fjords, only to land in the beautiful Lofoten Islands, where we spent time at a candle factory discussing our research interests.








It was here in this community, a retreat commonly used by painters, poets and other artists, that with several natural scientists, including Ruth Müller, then post-doctoral researcher at Alfred Wegener Institute for Marine and Polar Research, Germany, that we conceptualized a “coupled-systems” project that would consider cascade effects on biotic as well as socioeconomic systems by potential oil spills and for which we received exploratory funds from Arizona State University in 2008. Here is a photo of Ruth standing on the left with Nazune Menka.








Come to think of it, during this same trip, we even had our own musical entertainment in the form of a very talented trio flown in from Barcelona, who accompanied us, and shared the good times. But the presentations this morning were great, and let us say something about those now.

10/28: 7AM. We want to take a moment and provide a few introductions. We were so taken by our own sense of analysis yesterday that we completely did not comment on all the wonderful conference participants we met yesterday. And this is in part because of the late hour that we began writing. In fact, I did leave the conference reception yesterday with the intention of writing it all up, so-to-speak, when in the lobby of the City Hall, where the evening activities were taking place, I made the acquaintance of two persons, who were indeed quite fashionably dressed. It turned out that they were sisters, one of whom lives in Helsinki, and the other in Baku, Azerbaijan, of all places, and works for the Center for Strategic Studies under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan. This information we discovered before we even exchanged our names.

They were also leaving early, in order to attend a party here in town, for which Samantha and I suddenly and politely suggested that we attend. They immediately and graciously agreed, and finally, we formally introduced ourselves to each other and we snapped a photo of them both, right there in front of City Hall, and that is how we met with Ms. Gulmira Rzayeva and Ms. Esmira Rzayeva, both attendees of the conference. We walked over to a night club named Le Bonk where their friends and friendly acquaintances had gathered to celebrate the departure of a recently graduated MA student in media studies of Helsinki University, who is taking a job in London and whose name is, shown here in the middle, Imir Rashid. Congratulations Imir!

We should like to mention, that just previous to our departure from the City Hall reception, we had the chance for another meaningful exchange with Yale University assistant professor of anthropology Doug Rogers, who we’ve been wanting to meet in person for some time.

 He is shown here on the far right standing next to professor of geography at University of Leicester, Michael Bradshaw, who gave an absolutely wonderful talk yesterday, on the important recent dynamics of natural gas developments, including the glut in the markets as a result of the financial crisis, and the abandoned prospects of exporting LNG to the United States from the proposed Shtokman field.

These were certainly important comments in a day that was rather taken up by a dialogue between general events of uncertainty within Russian energy policy, and the theoretical framework for considering these events, which were ably presented to participants by recently awarded PhD holder and acting professor at Aleksanteri Institute David Dusseault, who appears on the far left of this photo, and is one of the main organizers of this wonderful event. Congratulations on your newly minted PhD David! and thanks for bringing us all together here in Helsinki to discuss such an interesting topic. We have many more introductions we plan to make today, but we’re late now to give our own talk!

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—  Aleksanteri Conference: Fueling the Future


10/27: At the end of the first day, I met with Simon-Erik Ollus, Finnish economist specializing in Russian electricity development. In 2008, Simon gave a wonderful talk about Russia’s electricity industry at the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø, Norway.

The Arctic Frontiers conference coincided with the release of a scientific report Assessing Arctic Oil and Gas Development, sponsored by Arctic Council. I still remember the clarity with which Simon spoke, and wanted to meet him in person to discuss how ideas about Russian energy development circulate and shape arctic development. This evening, when we met, he told me he had since quit academia, and went into private sector. He is Vice President, Chief Economist at Fortum Corporation.

We only had a brief time to discuss, as he needed to pick up his daughter. He suggested we grab a coffee. We left the conference slightly before the other participants, who were now all intending to walk to the Helsinki City Hall, for a catered reception. For the world, I did not want to miss the reception! But I did want to speak with Simon-Erik, so I followed him without protest to a nearby coffee shop. As it turns out, it was perhaps the best thing I could do, because within the space of a few minutes, he asked me how my work was going. Specifically, he asked, indeed, that if I examine communities of experts, and that if I study the way they get together and share ideas, what in fact, did I think so far of today’s meeting?

This was a brilliant question. I certainly had not thought about it until that moment. I had no idea what I would have written about in this particular blog right now, had he not asked that question. I was in fact, stunned. I told him that he just asked me an excellent question, and in fact, I was now, in this instant, prepared to provide an answer. We entered the coffee shop, and he treated me to a Finnish-type roll and latte. We sat under a dome, with a red ball hanging down, and there was an echo effect. This is what we told him:

I’ve been studying energy workshops, conferences, executive roundtables and other gatherings for a long time. And so there are certain things I know to look for. For example, the first thing I look for in a meeting is to see what type of venue has been chosen for the gathering. Is it a university? Is it a hotel? Is it a 4 Star hotel? Venue makes a big difference in the way knowledge can be transmitted. Typically, anthropologists don’t think so. We pride ourselves on giving talks at universities where the speaker system doesn’t work well, or where there might be some problem with the image projector. These issues we accept with a feeling that the knowledge will somehow rise above all these petty issues that preoccupy more wealthier (and thus superficial) gatherings. But even for anthropologists, venue matters, otherwise we would hold job talks in New York’s Times Square – and just think how much knowledge would be transmitted then!

In my previous experience, the venues of energy consultants are very high-end. They usually take place in 4 star hotels, like CERAweek, which takes place at the new Hilton in Houston. There, all activities can be orchestrated without a glitch. For example, a lot of electricity needs to be used, and the stream of energy needs to be reliable. There are huge walls screens with Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, speaking. Just think if the venue didn’t have appropriate energy requirements, and electricity back up. Hilary’s time is important, and she probably couldn’t wait the 20 minutes required to boot her back up.

For this reason, I arrived early, before anyone else, to the Aleksanteri meeting space, to take a few photos. As you can see, it’s beautiful. I knew right there and then, that the organizers of this event, had indeed, a few ideas they wanted to convey. That is, they were ambitious with their thoughts. They needed a space to match that ambition. They wanted to make sure their ideas would float comfortably across the room. And that we, the participants, would be comfortably seated, warm, cozy, even receptive to the ideas when they began to float.

The second thing I look for is the attendance list. This is a big indicator of how ideas will circulate at a meeting. When you organize an event, you make a decision about who will attend. You make a conscious selection about who you want to surround yourself with and with whom you want to speak to and with whom you would like to share your ideas with. Such decisions include how many Americans you want in the room. In my experience, Americans always think we’re right and we have the best ideas. And so if you put too many of us in the room together, whether we are natural scientists, politicians, social scientists or even anthropologists, we are going to be the only ones in the room that are right. That’s just my experience.

Based on casual observation, the ratio of one American to 10 non-Americans creates a healthy balance of idea sharing, where ideas are not drowned out by the confidence that we take with us. That doesn’t sound too analytical, and I won’t go into it more than that right now, but simply to say, at this conference, there are not that many Americans. And the effect has been so far, that no particular set of ideas has dominated the conference, with exception of the ideas that the organizers have put forth, which I will talk about more in a minute.

Another thing I look for on the participant list, is which institutions are attendees coming from. This is another big issue. Often times, academics coming from prestigious named universities bring added-value to an event, precisely because they bring the prestige of the named institution to bear on the various ideas under consideration. I’ve worked at numerous universities, including UC Berkeley, Arizona State University and University of Calgary. I’ve attended Columbia University and University of Alaska. My experience suggests that when I meet another academic from a prestigious university, I tend to promote my affiliation with UC Berkeley and Columbia, instead of the other institutions, as if doing so lends my ideas more credibility. This may not mean much in terms of scientific progress, but it sure means something to a lot of us in academia when it comes to passing judgement about what differentiates great ideas from ideas that are just so-so. In Europe and Russia, this also seems to matter. Without going into too much detail, I noticed that among the few Americans in attendance, one was from Yale, another from Harvard, and myself, representing UC Berkeley. In fact, the four of us found ourselves instantly and comfortably chatting to each other, like bees in a bonnet.

A final point in terms of attendance list is the actual number of attendees. If the number is too small, it no longer can be considered an event but instead, an intimate setting. You need a critical number of persons, to generate a sense of excitement about the feeling that you’re attending a happening. But if the crowd is too large, then there’s no incentive to feel part of a group more generally. Nope, you need at minimum, 100 people, to make everyone feel confident that we’re in this together, but at the same time, to give everyone both enough anonymity so that they feel they’re being watched, but enough intimacy, so that they’re movements can be observed by the same people over a few days stretch, and thus, to create a sense of meaningful behavior among peers. In these three senses then, limiting Americans, highlighting prestigious institutions, and finding the magic number of attendees to create a sense of a happening, today’s conference was an absolute success. And here, I use the word success to refer to creating the kind of context where what can develop is a community of interpretation. I use the phrase community of interpretation to refer to a setting in which, much like a crucible, ideas over a several day period can be forged, launched, tested, honed, and made one’s own. These are the attendance requirements for creating and disseminating a new idea so to speak.

Well, let’s now take a look at the new idea that was being promoted today. Ideas are totally important. Think how much money the recent movie Inception made at the box office. What was that about? Planting an idea so it grows and becomes part of the entire total social phenomena of the person. That’s right. There are so many great examples in the social sciences where ideas are shown to be material forces that structure the individual and society. Both Max Weber and Norbert Elias, two of my favorites on how ideas shaped us as modern individuals, and have left me spinning like that little totem in the movie Inception, spinning around without stopping, yet thinking I’m doing it all on my own volition.

But let’s go on. To create a community of interpretation, in this case, about Russian energy strategy, you need a good idea. The existential requirements of a good idea are pretty straight forward. First, the idea can’t have too many terms and new words and the relations between these terms can not be such, that they need to be committed to memory before walking into the conference. You can dazzle people with complicated stuff and that will work, but if you’re going to move people to a consensus about a new idea, and not just a word or a term, and moreover, have decided to not prep them in advance of the meeting, it’s best to choose something that people can conceive of as an instrument that can be applied to a variety of different but structurally similar empirical examples. Like a can opener. It’s a good idea, no matter how big or small the can is. The only stipulation is, that what can be opened must be a can.

Let’s take the example of an alliance between persons of decision-making power without appropriate knowledge to make decisions (leaders), and persons of knowledge without decision-making power (academics, consultants). You can sell that idea as something that works, because it applies in a wide variety of empirical examples, just so long as you have those two elements, knowledge without position and position without knowledge. Simple. Well, in today’s presentation, there was an elaborated idea about understanding Russian energy strategy in terms of the structuration of energy policy. Right off the bat, people want to know what the story is with structuration, does it have a history? whose history? Giddens? what? You see there. You don’t need to discuss history with an idea like “tipping point” — which by the way is just Threshold. It’s an instrument void of history, or rather, it has transhistorical application, dangerous indeed. Gosh, we have to retire for the evening, we’ll finish this later.

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