My Name is Phil Johnstone and I’m a Research Fellow at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), University of Sussex.
The project is ideal for me, as I have been moaning consistently for the past four years that much work on ‘energy transitions’ is essentially depoliticised, and clearly, once we talk about ‘discontinuing’ something, we are recognising the dimension of the political: the fact that we cannot simply have a ‘sustainable transition’ but must confront difficult choices, face value judgements, favour particular pathways whilst excluding others. Here we encounter power relations, questions of democratic legitimacy, the nature of decision making, and more broadly still, the relationship between technological developments and the constitution of political and democratic life.
It is this dynamic – between Scientific and technological development, democracy, and politics (with my Geographer-self always attentive towards the spatial implications of such dynamics) - that forms the core of my research.
Before this project, I completed my PhD in Geography at the University of Exeter, researching the political and democratic implications of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’ finishing in March 2013. From August 2012 to January 2013 I was also an Associate Research Fellow on the Biosecurity Borderlands project, focussing on the governance of Zoonotic diseases in the poultry and pig industries. From January 2013 to August 2013 I was working as an Associate Research Fellow, on the Visualising Climate Change project with Saffron O’Neill, which involved two months in London working in the Colindale Newspaper Archives of the British Library. Before this I completed an MSc in Environmental Governance and BSc in Geography both at Manchester.
I am also the University of Sussex Tyndall Centre Coordinator, and I am looking forward to working with people from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds at Sussex to bring together the substantial expertise on climate change that exists across the University. The Tyndall Centre presents a fantastic opportunity to be involved in a network that is world-leading with regards to research on the social impacts of climatic change.
I am also a musician, and may from time to time , blog about this as it relates to notions of techno-democracy. The main genre focus is Folk music (not so relevant) and Techno (proper techno) – luckily, techno artists are perhaps the first to fully embrace how entwined and caught up in the tempos and machinic rhythms of the technological we are, and I have the intention to write about the accuracy and honesty of their sounds one day.
I enjoy writing in other, less-academic forms as well, and have other projects including ‘Where does the Buck stop?’ – a project which seeks to follow, connect and document the various spaces of Buckfast – from Beautiful Abbey to SPL football match. Another project, ‘Britannia at the Margins’. is driven by a fascination at the ‘new nationalism’ which has emerged following the various notable events of the past few years. Exploring the contradictions of this new nationalism, this project focusses on the spaces of the UK less amplified, forgotten, or perhaps hidden, by such developments. Please check them out if you are interested.
You can get in touch on here, via twitter, or via email at p[dot]johnstone@sussex[dot]ac[dot]uk
Hope you enjoy this blog.