Squaring the Circle of Southeast Asia’s Green transition - The Goals, Implementation and Challenges of Southeast Asia’s Transition to Green Energy

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Asmus Rungby




Yale University


DKK 820,000




Internationalisation Fellowships


In light of massive climate change-driven risks to marine and coastal life as well as urban habitability, a growing population, increasing per-capital electricity demands, and escalating international pressures, Southeast Asia is at the forefront of global energy transitions. This project examines the bureaucratic and coordinative efforts to make the Southeast Asian energy transition happen through ethnographic fieldwork at the Jakarta-based ASEAN Center for Energy. By following the negotiations and collaboration between key actors in the Southeast Asian Energy transition I aim to expand our understanding of the political and bureaucratic aspects of transitioning into sustainable energy systems.


Developing green energy sources and modernizing electricity grids are at the heart of contemporary attempts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. Accordingly, energy transitions away from coal and natural gas are underway globally. Southeast Asia’s transition is uniquely compelling as the region’s strategic placement between American and Chinese spheres of influence means that this transition needs to navigate the emerging tensions of 21st century multipolarity as well as regional political conditions and technical challenges. For these reasons, the institutional arrangements and efforts emerging at the ASEAN Center for Energy showcase the new international institutions and forms of governance which are needed to manage the climactic challenges of the Anthropocene.


This project leverages my Ph.D. research on organizational collaboration and democratic institutions in Southeast Asia to contribute to the emerging fields of environmental humanities and social scientific energy studies. But in doing so it leverages the long disciplinary histories of anthropology and Southeast Asian studies and their deep resources for critical theorization and analysis. Ethnographic fieldwork at the ASEAN Center for Energy will permit detailed insight into the formal and informal workflows at the center. In addition to this, I will conduct in-depth interviews with involved actors from private and public sectors and approach the field comprehensively through document approaches critically engaging with reports and analyses made by the ASEAN Center for Energy and the organizations it collaborates with.

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