Dec 7, 2018
Kohletag: A Multi-Disciplinary Workshop on the Past, Present, and Future of Coal Use in Germany and Beyond


MPIWG, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany

Room 219
Contact and Registration

This workshop is open to all, but places are limited. Please register by emailing Thomas Turnbull in advance.


Geological circumstance has contributed to the emergence of a specific constellation of industrial modernity in Germany. Today, despite the nation’s global leadership in the deployment of renewable energy, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions have stagnated. This is largely blamed on the continued dominance of hard coal and lignite as components of Germany’s energy mix. In response, a number of stakeholders have called for a German "coal phase-out." Given growing interest in coal phase-out as a controversial aspect of the Energiewende this workshop will bring together scholars and policy advocates to discuss the myriad relations that have been established between coal and culture. In doing so, the aim is to develop mutual awareness of the significance of past, present, and future coal use in Germany and beyond. 

The event is intended to be experimental, in so far as it will address multiple aspects of coal use from different disciplinary competencies. The aim of bringing diverse practitioners together is to develop a complementary awareness of the significance of past coal use and the complexities of phase-out. In order to fulfil this ambition, the workshop will begin by examining coal phase-in, Germany’s specific transition from organic to inorganic fuel use. From there, we will move to a discussion of coal use in German history. This will then be followed by presentations on the contemporary phase-out movement. We will then widen the scale of analysis, to consider coal use beyond Germany.


  • 10:30 Coffee and Welcome
  • 10:45 Introduction
  • 11:00 Phase-In
    • Thomas Turnbull, MPIWG, "Debating the Historical Agency of Coal in Britain and Germany"
    • Helge Wendt, MPIWG, "Regional Differences in the Knowledge Economies and Scenarios of Phase-In: Coal in 19th-Century Global History"
  • 12:00 Coffee
  • 12:30 Coal in Use
    • Timothy Moss, IRI THESys, "Coal, Coke, and the Cold War: Aspirations and Realities of Energy Autarky in West Berlin"
    • Ludger Gailing, Leibniz Institute for Spatial Social Research, "Reconfiguring the Rhenisch Lignite Mining Area as a Regional Energy Space: Competing Dispositives and Imaginaries"
  • 13:30 Lunch
  • 14:30 Phase-Out
    • Pao-Yu Oei, TU Berlin, "Lessons from a Continuous Reduction of Coal Extraction and Scenarios for Future Phase-out Pathways in Germany"
    • Jeremias Herberg, David Löw Beer, IASS Potsdam, "Limited Perspectives on an Open Field—Coal in Lusatia"
  • 15:30 Coffee
  • 16:00 Beyond Germany
    • Charlotte Brukermann, MPI Social Anthropology, "Decarbonizing Chinese Coal Country: Building 'Ecological Civilization' in Shanxi Province"
    • Katja Müller, MLU, Halle-Wittenberg, "The Coal Rush and Beyond. Coal Reliance, Climate Change, and Contested Futures in Australia, India, and Germany"
  • 17:00 Concluding Comments
  • 17:30 Close
2018-12-07T10:30:00SAVE IN I-CAL 2018-12-07 10:30:00 2018-12-07 12:30:00 Kohletag: A Multi-Disciplinary Workshop on the Past, Present, and Future of Coal Use in Germany and Beyond Thomas Turnbull Thomas Turnbull Europe/Berlin public