- Antti Silvast
- Research Fellow - European Energy Policy and Markets
- B.1 Chisholm House High School Yards Edinburgh UK EH1 1LZ
- +44(0)131 650 3427
- Research Interests
- Energy & Infrastructure, Climate change and energy policy, European Union, Risk and vulnerability, Social Studies of Finance, Everyday Life, Sociological Theory
My research is on energy systems, infrastructure, and risk, foccusing on the vitality of infrastructures for society and how infrastructure depends on its history, work, and everyday use. I am based at Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) at the University of Edinburgh. Before this, I was a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton University, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies.
In May 2017, Routledge will publish my book Making Electricity Resilient: Risk and Security in a Liberalized Infrastructure. Ensuring the resilience of more sustainable energy infrastructures against disruptions has become a growing concern for high-level policy makers. Drawing on field work, this book unpacks the work of the authorities, electricity companies, and lay persons that keeps energy systems from failing and helps them to recover from disruptions if they occur. The book explores a number of important sites: the historical security policy of energy infrastructures; control rooms where electricity is traded and maintained in real time; and electricity consumers in their homes.
I am editor of Science & Technology Studies, the official journal of European Association for the Study of Science and Technology. I also co-coordinate the Science, Technology and Innovation Studies Seminar Series in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh and was member of the organizing committee of the Network for Early Career Energy Researchers in the university.
- CANDID (Checking Assumptions aND promoting responsibility In smart Development projects) (2017) asks how social scientists and humanities scholars can contribute to the development of 'smart' technology, and focusses on the emerging discourse on smart electricity grids and smart electricity meters, risk, rights, privacy, 'smart' health technology, and sensing infrastructures in 'smart' cities. It is funded by the European Commission Horizon 2020.
- Scotland and the European Energy Union: A Sociotechnical Systems Perspective (2015-2018) analyses European energy policy developments in terms of their possible implications for Scottish and UK energy system transitions, including markets and trading, infrastructure, and low-carbon investments. It is funded by the Scottish Government through the Scottish ClimateXChange.
Silvast, Antti (2017). Making Electricity Resilient: Risk and Security in a Liberalized Infrastructure. London: Routledge.
Silvast, Antti; Hänninen, Hannu & Hyysalo, Sampsa (2013, 2014). Energy in Society: Energy Systems and Infrastructures in Society. A triple special issue of Science & Technology Studies 26 (3), 27 (1), and 27 (2).
Articles in international refereed journals
Jalas, Mikko; Rinkinen, Jenny & Silvast, Antti (2016). The Rhythms of Infrastructure. Anthropology Today 32 (4): 17-20.
Silvast, Antti & Virtanen, Mikko (2014). Keeping Systems at Work: Electricity Infrastructure from Control Rooms to Household Practices. Science & Technology Studies 27 (2): 93-114.
Silvast, Antti; Hänninen, Hannu & Hyysalo, Sampsa (2013). Energy in Society: Energy Systems and Infrastructures in Society. Science & Technology Studies 26 (3): 3-13.
Silvast, Antti & Kelman, Ilan (2013). Is the Normal Accidents Perspective Falsifiable? Disaster Prevention and Management 22 (1): 7-16.
Silvast, Antti (2011). Monitor Screens of Market Risks: Managing Electricity in a Finnish Control Room. STS Encounters 4 (2): 145-174.
Silvast, Antti (2014). The Protection of the Banking System as a Critical Societal Infrastructure. In Petropolous, Nicholas & Tsobanoglou, George (eds): The Debt Crisis in the Eurozone (EZ): Social Impacts. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 459-480.
Silvast, Antti (2013). Ilmastotieteen suuri koneisto [The Vast Machine of Climate Science]. Review of the book Edwards, Paul N. (2010): A Vast Machine: Computers Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 552 pages. Tekniikan Waiheita [Journal of the Finnish Society for the History of Technology] 31 (4): 75-77.
Silvast, Antti (2010). Etnografian tutkimuskäytäntöjä [Ethnography’s Research Practices]. Review of the book Giampietro, Gobo (2008): Doing Ethnography. SAGE Publications, London, 355 pages. Sosiologia [Journal for Finnish Sociology] 47 (4): 312-313.
Manuscripts in preparation
Energy Systems, National Identities and Technology Styles: Contested Infrastructure Transitions in Scotland and the UK. For a special theme issue in Energy Research & Social Science. (With Mark Winskel.)
How History Matters: Governance, Public Policies and the Making of Sociotechnical Transitions. For a special theme issue in Environmental Innovation and Sociotechnical Transitions. (With Ronan Bolton and Vincent Lagendijk.)
Small Leak or Significant Release? An Ethnographic Study of Sensemaking in a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Exercise. (With Maarit Pedak, Salla-Maria Laaksonen, Salli Hakala, and Minttu Tikka.)
Normal Accidents vs. High Reliability: The Emergence and Non-Emergence of Low-Probability, High-Consequence Risks in the Finnish Electricity System.
“City Infrastructures”, “Country-side Infrastructures”, and their Problems: The Social Construction of Finnish Electricity Reliability Statistics, 1984-2014.
Bolton, Ronan; Silvast, Antti & Winskel, Mark (2016). The Implications of Brexit for Energy Policy. The Centre on Constitutional Change, 19 July 2016.
Bolton, Ronan; Silvast, Antti & Winskel, Mark (2016). The Implications of Brexit for Energy Policy. Bulletin of the Scottish ClimateXChange, 6 July 2016.
Silvast, Antti (2016). Knowing Economies, Doing Economies: How Sociologists of Markets Have Acknowledged the Legacy of #Pragmatism. Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World, 1 March 2016.
Silvast, Antti (2015). The EU's Energy Union: Solidarity amid Dissensus? European Futures, Edinburgh Europa Institute, 24 September 2015.
Silvast, Antti & Kaplinsky, Joe (2007). White Paper on Security of European Electricity Distribution. European Union funded Pan-European training program for electricity transmission security management, 63 pages.
University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research
University of Helsinki, Department of Sociology
The University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science
Science, Technology and Innovation Studies
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Princeton University, Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies
Selected conference activities
Modeling Uncertainties, Producing Differences. Semiplenary panel with the speakers Paul N. Edwards (Michigan) and Robin Williams (Edinburgh). 12th European Sociological Association Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, 25-28 August 2015. (Together with Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen.)
Infrastructures of Preparedness: Conceptual Issues, Empirical Openings. 12th European Sociological Association Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, 25-28 August 2015. (Together with Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen.)
Energy Resilience Politics. 12th European Sociological Association Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, 25-28 August 2015. (Together with Barbara Lucini.)
Energy Debates and Public Discourses. Second Aalto Event on Science and Technology Studies: Energy in Society, Helsinki, Finland, 5-6 November 2012.
“Understanding the European Energy Union: a Single Concept for Many Systems.” The Academic Association for Contemporary European Studies (UACES) 46th Annual Conference, Queen Mary University of London, 5-7 September 2016. (Together with Ronan Bolton and Mark Winskel.)
“Infrastructure Risk and Biography of Artefacts: Multiple Dynamics and Temporalities.” T132: Beyond the single-site study: the Biography of Artefacts and Practices. Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) conference, Barcelona, 31 August - 3 September 2016.
“Understanding the European Energy Union: a Single Concept for Many Systems.” 39th International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE) Conference, Bergen, Norway, 19-22 June 2016. (Together with Ronan Bolton and Mark Winskel.)
“Co-constituting Supply and Demand: Managing Electricity in Two Neighbouring Control Rooms.” Electrifying Anthropology, Durham Energy Institute and Department of Anthropology at Durham University with the IT University of Copenhagen, Durham, UK, 14-16 March 2016.
“Security and Risk in a Liberalized Electricity Infrastructure: Does Competition Compromise Resilience?” 12th European Sociological Association Conference, Prague, Czech Republic, 25-28 August 2015.
“Normal Accidents vs. High Reliability: The Emergence and Non-Emergence of Low-Probability, High-Consequence Risks in Electricity Supply.” Global Systemic Risk Luncheon Presentation, Princeton University, NJ, US, 9-12-2014.
“Two Kinds of Risk: Enacting Markets and Security in Neighboring Electricity Control Rooms.” Nordic Worlds: Energy & Environment, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, US, 19-11-2014.
“Small Leak or Significant Release? An Ethnographic Study of Sensemaking in a Nuclear Power Plant Emergency Exercise.” EGOS2014 Colloquium, 3-5 July 2014, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. (With Maarit Pedak, Salla-Maria Laaksonen, Salli Hakala & Minttu Tikka.)
“Managing Insecurity: Risk Technologies and the Looping Effects of Welfare Production”, 11th European Sociological Association Conference, Turin, Italy, 28-8 -31-8-2013 (Together with Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen, Mikko Jauho, and Jyri Liukko.)
“National Security Threat and Its Measurement: Protecting Society’s Vital Energy Infrastructures in Finland”, The Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) Annual Congress, Ankara, Turkey, 11-7 – 15-7-2012.
“Lay People, Experts and Electricity Blackouts: Everyday Habits as Risk Response”, Energy & Society Conference, Institute of Social Sciences (ICS-UL), Lisbon, Portugal, 22-3– 24-3-2012.
University of Edinburgh, School of Social and Political Science
Guest Lecturer, Energy Policy and Politics (Spring 2016)
University of Helsinki, Open University
Guest Lecturer and Exercises (Finnish), Kriisiviestintä ja -johtaminen [Crisis Communication and Leadership] (Spring 2014)
University of Helsinki, Department of Social Research
Guest Lecturer (Finnish), Teknologia, ympäristö, yhteiskunta [Technology, Environment, Society] (Spring 2014)
Seminar Co-Coordinator (English), Reflexive Interviewing (Autumn 2013, Spring 2012)
Seminar Co-Coordinator (Finnish), Käytäntöjen analytiikkaa [The Analytics of Practices] (Spring 2011)
Seminar Coordinator, Guest Lecturer, Exercises (Finnish), Sosiaalitutkimuksen kvalitatiiviset menetelmät [The Qualitative Methods of Social Research] (Autumn 2010, Spring 2010, Autumn 2009)
Guest Lecturer (Finnish), Energiapolitiikka, media ja markkinat [Energy Politics, Media, and Markets] (Spring 2009)
Guest Lecturer (Finnish), Ajankohtaisia teemoja tieteen- ja teknologian tutkimuksessa [Current Themes in Science and Technology Studies] (Spring 2009)
Guest Lecturer (Finnish), Teoria, tutkimus ja teoreettinen tutkimus [Theory, Research, and Theoretical Research] (Spring 2009)
Topics interested in supervising
I am interested in co-supervising topics broadly related to energy, infrastructure, and Science and Technology Studies. Example project ideas linked to my ongoing research include vulnerabilities and risks in energy infrastructure, social studies of energy markets, ethnographies of energy systems, studies of 'smart' grids and meters, energy organisation studies, and new openings in socio-technical transitions.