Sarah Knuth

Sarah Knuth
Durham University | DU · Department of Geography

About

20
Publications
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371
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Introduction
Sarah Knuth is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Durham University. Sarah does research in Social Theory, Qualitative Social Research and Geography.

Publications

Publications (20)
Article
Governments, utilities, and energy companies are increasingly looking towards energy storage technologies to extend the availability of variable renewable power sources such as solar and wind. In this Perspective, we examine these fast-shifting developments by mapping and analyzing landscapes of renewable energy storage emerging across the Western...
Article
The critique of fossil fuel regimes has been a foundational concern for the field of political ecology, in its drives to expose the injustices and harms of energy extractivism and its early warnings of the climate crisis. However, it is increasingly evident that renewable energy sources and their infrastructures will carry their own costs and trade...
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Progressive movements today call for transformative state-led investment in renewable energy and other climate infrastructures—in the United States, a vision that confronts inherited legacies of austerity. I argue that a significant obstacle is the neoliberal toolkit through which the US federal government subsidizes renewables, an indirect, highly...
Article
In the face of climate destabilizations and breakdowns, debates about (de)growth and scale have been particularly significant within critical scholarship. These debates counterpose radically different political positionings, with implications for how the planetary future is envisioned. Must societies build their way out of climate change’s existent...
Article
As critical urbanists confront climate change, and prospective climate responses, we must ask crucial questions about the ‘lifetime’ of today’s urban fabrics and metropolitan forms. How durable or ephemeral will existing urban geographies prove in the face of societal devaluations and destruction associated with climate change? Will breaks in and w...
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In today's populist moment, climate change response has become anything but "post-political". The project to decarbonize energy supplies is generating ongoing political clashes today, including between competing forms of capital/ism. In the United States, rising renewable energy industries in places like California contend with fossil fuel blocs an...
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Editor's Introduction, Theme Issue Devaluation is the shadow haunting every capitalist fantasy of endless accumulation. Its ever-present threat, in competitive capitalist struggles and recurrent economic crises, compels capital forward to enclosures of new values and to new realms, techniques, and geographies of production and surplus extraction....
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Using a regional political ecology lens, this paper explores emerging geographies and politics of a “postnatural” ecomodernist turn in mainstream environmentalism. We examine the unfolding case of ecological restoration and renewable energy development at Southern California’s Salton Sea. Ambitious proposals to restore the massive, increasingly deg...
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In the 2010s, major US initiatives framed urban retrofitting as a decarbonization solution. These programs address an obtrusive legacy of industrial capitalism: its built environments shed energy and emissions when they fall into disrepair. Political ecology and economy have been slow to engage retrofitting, an absence that is conspicuous as these...
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Like other cities taken up as symbolic embodiments of – and referendums upon – their times, Detroit today is inevitably a more complex place than caricatured by its many critics, mourners, and ardent champions. Kimberley Kinder’s 2016 book, DIY Detroit: Making Do in a City Without Services, tells a story of contemporary life in Motor City neighborh...
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Reimagining energy infrastructures for the 21st century increasingly means choosing between competing economic futures, a dilemma that is now provoking conflicts across many places and realms. In the United States, one critical clash is unfolding among tech sector advocates for a clean energy transition, as U.S. cleantech has worked to regroup from...
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In Debt Wish, Sbragia documents the turbulent economic history and evolving legal geography of US federalism in the 19th and 20th centuries, from which she identifies the enduring structural tendencies and path dependencies. In work that speaks to growing scholarly interest in the legal geographies of finance on- and off-shore (e.g. Christophers 20...
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This paper argues that taking up questions of value can help political ecologists and economists develop a more powerful analysis of the green economy, as it introduces new urban, industrial, and technological dimensions into a self-identified green capitalism. More specifically, I maintain that processes of green devaluation, decommodification, an...
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Understanding global land transformations today requires greater attention to finance, and how financial institutions are making land and property into financial assets. Drawing on geographical political economy and scholarship on financialisation, I question the nature and temporality of finance's new interest in land-notably, whether it is specul...
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The early 21st century witnessed a boom in green building in San Francisco and similar cities. Major downtown property owners and investors retrofitted office towers, commissioned green certification, and critically, explored how greening might pay. Greening initiatives transcend corporate social responsibility: they represent a new attempt to encl...
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Federal political deadlock has long forced progressive climate change mitigation efforts in the United States to target greenhouse gas emissions and reduction options at regional, state, urban, and local levels. Even as a national mitigation agenda solidifies, researchers and political actors might strategically maintain local places and types of l...
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While US climate change mitigation policy has stalled at the national level, local and regional actors are increasingly taking progressive steps to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Universities are poised to play a key role in this grassroots effort by targeting their own emissions and by working with other local actors to develop climate cha...

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Projects

Projects (3)
Project
Materialities, cultures, and political economies/ecologies of energy transition: how transitions politics entangle and entrain practices of devaluation, rendering-obsolescent, asset depreciation and stranding; everyday and planetary repair; struggles for ideological terrain and territory amid socioenvironmental destabilization and turbulence (debates over the Anthropocene, a 'used planet', the 'postnatural', futurism and compositionism, and the 'pristine'/protected); vital materialisms, hangovers, and path dependencies of major infrastructures, value and fixed capital, urban-regional economies and settlement patterns, histories of contamination and land transformation; new/old exactions from, sacrifice of, and distress in regions; and politics of grievance, reparation, and restorative justice - right-wing and left-wing populist, 'postpolitical', radical.
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Political economic/ecological struggles to define the nature(s), accumulation geographies, and beneficiaries of development in/for a green economy: contested innovation and energy-industrial policies and politics; entanglements between green post-industrialism and financialization; novel forms and geographies of property and financial assets/assetization; interconnected market-making practices/networks and accumulation frontiers - urban, rural, infrastructural, fiscal; questions of rent and rentierism; interpretive/material struggles over the nature and temporalities capitalism accumulation frontiers (competing forms of rent/rentierism, the nature of 'breakthroughs', the question of 'financial innovation', intensive/extensive accumulation frontiers and new forms of formal/real subsumption).
Project
Devaluation is the shadow haunting every capitalist fantasy of endless accumulation. Its threat compels capital ever forward, to constant enclosures of new values and to new techniques and geographies of production. It drives bitter struggles within capital itself as different actors, factions, and places strive to deflect the ravages of devaluation “elsewhere.” This project interrogates the ways that such devaluations are also increasingly opportunities for capital and forges new analytical ground by engaging the interrelations between sites of de- and re-valuation usually considered separately: rural landscape degradation, urban blight and obsolescence, industrial waste production, and collapsed asset prices. In doing so, it connects empirical and theoretical work from urban and economic geography with themes more common to political ecology in ways that produce new insights into the connections between economic de- and re-valuation, on the one hand, and physical deterioration of all kinds, on the other. Project themes include, for example, the political economies/ecologies of structural obsolescence and devaluation; creative destruction, 'disruption', and their geographies; restoration and planetary repair as Anthropocene accumulation frontiers; energy transition and strategies for managed devaluation (depreciation, asset stranding, abandonments and displacements, reparations and extractions); predatory and opportunistic extraction/accumulation (including financialized rentierism); populist and radical politics of resistance, grievance, justice, and reparation.