The Leaky Grid: Black and Native Electrified Imaginaries


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The Leaky Grid” is concerned with the cultural, ecological, and political entanglements of the US electricity grid, centering an analysis of the co-constitutive relationship between electrical power and structural power. Residing at the intersections of the energy humanities, literature and the environment, and the study of Western colonial modernity through a perspective informed by Black Studies and Native American and Indigenous Studies, “The Leaky Grid” strives to understand the relationality between power and electricity through a reading of material infrastructures and a collection of Black and Indigenous electrified multi-media cultural production. Countering the ways the power grid fuels colonial extraction, violence, and control, the project turns to electrified imaginaries – found in works such as Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man,” Janelle Monáe’s “Electric Lady,” and Linda Hogan’s (Chickasaw) “Solar Storms” – where the possibilities of identity, power, and environment otherwise emerge. Working athwart the grid’s infrastructural ordering, “The Leaky Grid” reframes the grid as leaky, illuminating how the infrastructural systems, narratives, and imaginaries of Western modernity are porous, and lingering with the possibilities this porosity creates.