Kärg Kama is an ESRC Future Research Leader in the School of Geography and the Environment. In 2013-2016, Kärg held the Biegun Warburg Junior Research Fellowship at St Anne's College in combination with a research and teaching fellowship in the School. She continues to be associated with the College as stipendiary lecturer.
Kärg joined the School in October 2006 to complete an MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Policy (Distinction, 2007) and a DPhil in Geography and the Environment (2013), both supervised by Professor Andrew Barry. She also has a BA in Philosophy from the University of Tartu. Prior to moving to the UK, Kärg worked for seven years for the national audit office and non-government organizations in Estonia, where she monitored the state government's performance in environmental policy-making, resource management and the use of EU/EEA financial instruments.
Kärg's research interests combine critical resource geographies with political geography, economic sociology, and science and technology studies. Her doctoral and postdoctoral research has centred on the processes of 'resource-making', including the contentious techno-scientific practices, economic interventions and political struggles through which new components of the material world are rendered feasible for exploration and production. The empirical focus of this research has predominantly been on the development of unconventional fossil fuels, but also on non-energy materials and wastes. Kärg's writings in this field draw upon and advance social science theories of materiality and temporality, politics of knowledge and expertise, and economisation and marketisation. Her DPhil thesis, entitled 'Unconventional Futures: Anticipation, Materiality, and the Market in Oil Shale Development' offers one of the first scholarly attempts to argue for a relational and processual account of 'resource materialities' and anticipatory energy economies, based on a detailed analysis of how oil shale exploitation is continuously sustained via the promise of future prosperity, standardised across disparate geo-economic environments, and subsequently transforms the carbon economy and politics. Kärg's Masters thesis from 2007 examined the impacts of a Shell oil development project on local indigenous politics in Salym village, West Siberia.
Kärg's ESRC Future Research Leaders project, entitled 'Geo-logics and Geo-politics: The Collective Governance of European Shale Gas Development' (£149,196) explores the geoscientific and political disputes associated with the exploration of shale gas resources in EU countries. A key objective of this research is to examine the socio-politically transformative potential of such controversies in reconfiguring science-policy relations, expert knowledge production, and forms of public activism around new extractive economies.
While leading the ESRC project and writing a book on the science and politics of resource-making in shale energy development, Kärg is currently developing her conceptual interests in three directions. First, together with Dr Gisa Weszkalnys (LSE), she is writing on the concept of 'resource temporalities' which accounts for diverse engagements with time in resource-based economies. Second, she is part of a broader interdisciplinary initiative that develops new materialist approaches to 'geo-politics' and 'political geology'. Third, Kärg continues to think about the performativity of economics in the context of alternative, ostensibly non-capitalist material economies centred on reduced consumption, recycling and degrowth movements.
Kärg teaches on the MSc in Nature, Society and Environmental Governance, contributing lectures to the 'Nature and Society' and 'Science and Politics' core modules. She also co-convenes an MSc Elective on 'Politics of Oil and Gas' with Dr Caitlin McElroy.
In St Anne's College, Kärg gives tutorials in Geographical Controversies, Space, Place and Society, and Environmental Geography. She is also the Graduate Adviser for all Geography MSc students in the College.
Current graduate research students
|Cyrus Nayeri||Governing the ungovernable: investigating the geopolitics of volcano hazard management on Iceland's South Coast|
Recent graduate research students
|Alexandra Pons (Completed MPhil in 2015)||The financialization of environmental risk in hydraulic fracturing|
- Kama, K. (2016) Contending geo-logics: energy security, resource ontologies, and the politics of expert knowledge in Estonia. Geopolitics, 21(4): 831-856.
- Kama, K. (2015) Circling the economy: resource-making and marketization in EU electronic waste policy. Area, 47(1): 16-23.
- Kama, K. (2015) Review of G. Bridge and P. Le Billon 'Oil'. Journal of International Development, 27(4): 568-570.
- Kama, K. (2014) On the borders of the market: EU emissions trading, energy security, and the technopolitics of ‘carbon leakage’. Geoforum, 51: 202-212.
- Bradshaw, M., Chindo, M., Dutton, J. and Kama, K. (2015) Unconventional fossil fuels and technological change. Chapter 14 in, Ekins, P., Bradshaw, M. and Watson, J. (eds.) Global Energy: Issues, Potentials, and Policy Implications. Oxford University Press, Oxford. pp. 268-290. ISBN: 978-0-19-871952-6.
Selected conference papers and invited talks
- "Resource temporalities", 'Anticipating Abundance: Economizing the Arctic' workshop, Durham University, 12 May 2017 (with Gisa Weszkalnys).
- "Resource-making as politics of knowledge: epistemic struggles in European shale gas development", AAG Annual Meeting, Boston, 6 April 2017.
- "A failed epistemic authority on unconventional hydrocarbons?", 4S/EASST 2016 Conference, Barcelona, 30 August 2016 (with Aleksandra Lis and Leonie Reins).
- "Geo-logics and geo-politics: the contending resource ontologies and political associations afoot in new extractive industries", ISRF Residential Research Group: 'New Earth Thinking? Investigations of the Geo across the Social Sciences', Cambridge, 15-19 August 2016.
- "Economization, speculation and the geophysical: insights from unconventional hydrocarbon development". Global Conference in Economic Geography, Oxford, 21 August 2015.
- "Recalcitrant resources? The geophysical and the economic in unconventional energy development". AAG Annual Meeting, Chicago, 25 April 2015.
- "Contesting technology transfer: the disputed travels of a shale oil retort". EASST 2014 conference, Torun, Poland, 18 September 2014.
- "Materiality as potentiality: discrepancies between geologic and economic framings of future resources", RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 27 August 2014.
- "Technology in translation: realigning machinery, resources and energy economy". AAG Annual Meeting, Tampa, Florida, 9 April 2014.
- "Geology defies economics? Resource materiality and economization in unconventional energy development". 'Marketizing Nature' workshop, University of Durham, Department of Geography, 15 January 2014.
- "'When unconventional becomes conventional': the anticipatory politics of shale oil development". 'New Energy Security Challenges' workshop, RGS-IBG Energy Geographies Working Group, London, 10 May 2012.
- "Energy governance and technology development in Estonia: A shale oil industry in the making". Baltic Symposium 2012, University College London, 20 April 2012.
- "Solid shales, liquid promises: Rethinking the materiality of an unconventional oil resource". AAG Annual Meeting, New York, 27 February 2012.
- "Behind 'Estonian exceptionalism': oil shale, energy security and carbon pricing". 'Baltic Energy Dilemmas' workshop, Södertörn University, Stockholm, 24 November 2011.
- "Between energy security and emissions trading: the potential politics of 'carbon leakage' in Estonia". ESRC seminar series on 'The Nordic and Baltic states in the European Imagination', University College London, 30 September 2011.
- "Border strategies: carbon leakage, energy security and the Estonian oil shale industry". RGS-IBG Annual International Conference, London, 1 September 2011.