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Real Time in Rear View: Techno-Economic Acts in Markets of Electricity

Real Time in Rear View: Techno-Economic Acts in Markets of Electricity

This paper explores what “real time” means to market actors. I focus on traders, market designers, and engineers acting in electricity markets. For these experts, real time concerns the time interval in which they can no longer intervene using the instruments available to them. In real-time arrangements these intervals shrink, as experts are able to demand cooperation from nonhuman counterparts, like electricity flows, more frequently than before. To study real time’s proliferation across contemporary capitalism, I propose the analytic of “techno-economics”—the economic field where humans and nonhumans co-determine each others’ ranges of action. More broadly, this essay explores the diversity of capitalist time—a notion often occluded in the scholarship that either submits to the homogeneity of space-time compression or diagnoses temporal heterogeneity only outside capitalism.



Canay Özden-Schilling is an anthropologist of technology and capitalism. Currently, she is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the National University of Singapore. Her first book, The Current Economy: Electricity Markets and Techno-Economics, is forthcoming from Stanford University Press in June 2021. Her second project explores global supply chain logistics, as seen from the port cities of Mersin (Turkey) and Singapore.


Dr David Boarder Giles is a Lecturer in Anthropology at Deakin University who writes about waste, cities, and social movements. His current projects all explore the ways in which discarded surpluses—of people, places, and things—are circulated in “global” cities. He is the author of A Mass Conspiracy to Feed People: Food Not Bombs and the World-Class Waste of Global Cities, which will be published by Duke University Press in August 2021.

Dr Shama Naz Islam is a senior lecturer in Electrical Engineering at Deakin University. She is a leading researcher in the area of IoT for smart energy applications, energy management, peer-to-peer energy trading, and data analytics for smart grid. In 2015, she completed her PhD from the Australian National University. She is the lead investigator of ‘Energy Optimisation for Geelong Households’ project funded by the City of Greater Geelong and has also attracted over AUD$2 million in grants over the last 4 years. She has received Future Women Leader’s Award from Monash University in 2017. She has been awarded Victoria Fellowship 2019 for her contributions in scientific innovations in Victoria.


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