Status Quo Utopias in the UAE | Gökçe Günel


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E 405 | About a half-hour's drive from Abu Dhabi sits Masdar City, a clean technology and renewable energy business cluster and research institute. Founded in 2006, Masdar imagines a sustainable and business-savvy future where technology, ecology, and humanity co-exist and thrive, even in the oil-rich deserts of the Arabian Peninsula. In this episode we speak with Gökçe Günel, who spent over a year at Masdar examining the anthropology of renewable energy and green technology development. We talk about the challenges of pioneering greener versions of transportation, currency, and energy, as well as how experts imagine and produce these projects. How can developing technologies help us mitigate or even avert ecological disaster? And how does faith in their powers define whether and how we can transform our current patterns of consumption and energy use? See more at Gökçe Günel is Assistant Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Arizona, where she works on the anthropology of energy and climate change. Her book, Spaceship in the Desert: Energy, Climate Change and Urban Design in Abu Dhabi(Duke University Press, 2019), focuses on the construction of renewable energy and clean technology infrastructures in the United Arab Emirates, concentrating on the Masdar City project. Matthew Ghazarian is a Ph.D. Candidate in Columbia University's Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, African Studies. His research focuses on the intersections of sectarianism, humanitarianism, and famine in central and eastern Anatolia between 1839 and 1893. CREDITS Episode No. 405 Release Date: March 11, 2019 Recording Location: Istanbul Audio editing by Matthew Ghazarian Music: "Sombra" by Zé Trigueiros Images and bibliography courtesy of Gökçe Günel Available at

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