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Yujing Tan, PhD, Institute of Area Studies, Leiden University

Innovating China: Governance and Mobility in the New Economy

Yujing’s research fields include sociology of technological innovation and institutional innovation, and governance of new economy in contemporary China. Her thesis draws on her ethnography of “doing innovation” in the current massive socio-economic transition in urban China. This work interrogates how innovation, as a globalized “anti-global capitalism and corporatism” economic movement to invent the technologically enhanced newness and make the entrepreneurially engaged difference, is practice, imagined, mobilized, and reinterpreted through China’s local anxious developers and its subjects: the emerging surplus young tech-professionals in the national and global level. Empirically speaking, this study explores how and why subjects of Chinese innovation, namely the young professionals, local authorities, and policy-knowledge planners, converge in Chinese metropolitan cities, apply to economic movement to innovate China, and respond to the state’s rising governing agenda on technology and the society. I approach the emergence of Chinese innovation, a political-economic transition as well as a social movement, from the perspective of anthropology.


Gz. MeeNilankco Theiventhran, PhD, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen

Energy Transitions in Transitional Societies: Equity, Geopolitics and Norwegian Engagement  

MeeNilankco Theiventhran is a PhD Research Fellow at the Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, Norway and his PhD is on energy transitions in transitional societies. MeeNilankco is from Sri Lanka and his research interest includes comparative politics, democratisation, energy transitions, geopolitics and South Asia.

Technological transformation of the global energy system will have a strong impact on society, and democratising this transformation is essential to attain democratic and equitable solutions, with the broadest possible acceptability of technological infrastructures, energy systems are arguably the deepest embedded in modern economies and societies.

There is a growing need to identify and analyse the potential social and economic disruption due to energy transition, taking into account policies and strategies that would ensure equitable energy systems and minimize if not pre-empt disruption. The prospect of creation of renewable energy systems in ways that are not socially inclusive, or cause ethnic, religious, regional, gender or socio-economic inequities cannot be ignored in the context of the difficulty and complexity of energy transition accompanied by competing interests, locally and internationally. Especially the countries in transition will have an uphill task in the face of their changing dynamics, political fluidity and economic challenges.

The research seeks to examine the prospect of transitional societies achieving energy transition in a socially just manner, and explore the potential pathways and associated challenges with in-depth case studies from Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

Over the years, there has been much attention to the geopolitics of oil while the geopolitics of renewable energy received far less academic attention, especially in relation to the overall consequences of a global shift to renewable energy. Literature on the geopolitics of climate change as a broad issue is only occasionally relevant to the geopolitics of transition to renewable energy and much of it ignores the geopolitics of replacement of fossil fuel by renewable energy. It is paradoxical that minimal attention has been paid to the geopolitical consequences of renewable energy compare to the attention received by the geopolitics of oil. The PhD research also tries to fill the research gap in the geopolitics of energy transitions by understanding the geopolitics of energy transitions in Sri Lanka and Myanmar.