HASS Seminar Presentation with Canay Özden-Schilling

09 Apr 2015 10.00am to 10.45am SUTD, HASS Faculty Office (Building 1, Level 4), Meeting room (1.402-36)

This talk explores the "smart grid" - a term that has gained popularity in the energy industry in the last decade, broadly referring to an upgraded version of the electric grid equipped with digital communication technologies. Since the beginnings of electrification in the US, power systems engineers have aimed to balance supply and demand for purposes of grid stability and reliability in the absence of significant electricity storage.

Today, they are especially driven by the ideal of "efficiency," hoping to make the grid a venue for supply and demand to match each other as closely as possible, by way of improved communication between actors - a venue that mirrors the way economists have imagined the market. Based on ethnographic fieldwork amongst power systems engineers focusing on smart grids, I argue that the language and tools available to them - broadly, optimization techniques - make them imagine and fashion the grid in the image of a market. 

Canay Özden-Schilling is a doctoral candidate in History, Anthropology, and STS (HASTS) at MIT. Her dissertation is an ethnographic study of electricity markets in the United States. Based on fieldwork amongst power market analysts, smart grid engineers, and citizen groups, she explores how the US electricity infrastructure has been fashioned in the image of a free market.

More broadly, her economic anthropology interests include the creation, dissemination, and vernacularization of economic theories across society. Canay holds an M.A. in Near Eastern Studies from New York University and a B.A. in Political Science from Bogaziçi University, Istanbul.