My current and recently-commenced project examines the history of electricity in Germany, Norway, and Russia over the last four decades. Prior to the 1990s, electricity sectors worldwide were largely controlled by either state- or privately-owned corporations heavily regulated as ‘natural monopolies’ in terms of prices, market participation, investment, and sectoral planning. By the middle of the decade, a shift had begun worldwide toward deregulated, competitive markets in electricity. My project examines this transformation and the current political-economic organization of electricity markets and infrastructures, looking at the continuities and changes in the institutions, organization, and regulation of the sector in and around Germany, Norway, and Russia over the last five decades. While de-regulation was, no doubt, a signal moment, I want to consider not only what led to deregulation, but how deregulation in different places and times varied, how policy shifted – or drifted – after the headline-grabbing, landmark legislation had passed, the kinds of markets and differing modes of regulation that were created, the degree to which such changes affected the way people talk about and the meanings associated with the idea of ‘electricity’. One of the central questions I am interested in is who owns the electricity infrastructure, how ownership regimes are structured and how this effects profit-sharing and, especially, decision-making. At its heart, the project is motivated by the question of how the shift to renewable and zero-emission electricity production can be encouraged and quickened by policy and implications for economic and social inequality.
My training was originally in history – particularly economic and financial history, history of science, and global history. My Ph.D. was completed at Princeton University in 2016. The dissertation, entitled Liberalism in Numbers Only: Science, Politics and State Power in Postwar Global Fisheries Management examines the move across the world to administration of fisheries through individually tradable quotas, examining how and why states created markets for fishing quotas out of whole cloth. The dissertation takes the Soviet Union/Russian Federation, Norway, and Peru as case studies and includes extended discussions of North American postwar fisheries economics, as well.
Since the Ph.D. I have been a postdoctoral fellow first at the Max Planck Institute for Study of Society in Cologne, Germany and now at CET within the University of Bergen, meaning I have been embedded in highly interdisciplinary environments over the past three years. Thus, the work I do tends toward the social sciences, especially political economy and economic geography, with significant interest in ecological economics and economic sociology, as well. History being a broad tent, I consider myself an economic historian focusing on contemporary history or history of the present, what in German one calls Zeitgeschichte.
Like most historians, my initial training was qualitative but I have subsequently acquired background in probability and statistics and specific quantitative social scientific methods. The current project includes both qualitative and quantitative components, as well as use of computational text analysis employing Natural Language Processes (NLP) methods and machine learning algorithms for analyzing document and corpus similarities, topics, clusters and network analyses within and between documents. I have an abiding interest in how quantitative methods can be brought (back) into the historian’s toolkit in a way that complements and enhances historical research and training.
Publications and projects
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