Afghanistan's energy sociotechnical imaginaries: Alternative visions in a conflict zone.

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Imaginaries are understood to be both discursive and cognitive constructs that shape behaviour, policies, and institutions – but how do longstanding imaginaries evolve in new circumstances, and how do they interact with existing power structures in changed circumstances? Drawing on conceptions of discursive power, this paper investigates the interplay of power with both new and old imaginaries in the case of Afghanistan, specifically regarding alternative energy futures. Employing an interpretive approach, we draw on document analysis and semi-structured interviews with elite stakeholders and policy observers, to provide an account of the relations between alternative energy futures imaginaries and political power. We demonstrate, how certain discursive practices are made possible, authorised and articulated through imaginative geographies. Critically, the government-advocated imaginary of Afghanistan as an energy corridor and hence an energy importer both represents the views of several powerful interests and concurs with the long-held idea of Afghanistan as a buffer state. In this way, political path dependencies are reinforced through a supportive imaginary, just as the dominant imaginary is itself reinforced by the main stakeholders. While in line with our interpretive epistemology we do not make claims for the specific configuration of imaginaries being generalisable elsewhere, we do find the general theoretical approach useful for understanding discursive aspects of conflict zone politics, particularly vis-à-vis energy system trajectories.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102657
JournalPolitical Geography
Volume98
ISSN0962-6298
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01.10.2022