This is a story of women who invoke another woman’s psychosomatic distress to make a case for the green good life and its possibilities. Hailing from a northern German village transformed by sustainable development projects, the people in this story weigh the promises of the Energiewende, Germany’s “energy turn” from nuclear to renewable energy, through the experience of one woman and her everyday life. At a moment where ecological concern has become a site of capitalist speculation, these women posit investment in renewable energy as a means to better living and, by extension, a solution for their friend’s emotional upheaval.
Drawing upon research conducted over a decade of visits to northern Germany, I contend that situations such as this offer insight into the class politics of the unfolding energy transition. Here I interweave two different kinds of thinking in cases, for as the women in this story invoke their friend’s life to make a case for renewable energy, I take their very conversation as a case unto itself: a site where everyday sensibilities about ecocapitalist development are given form and freight.
One Friday morning in the spring of 2011, I sat around a table with four women eating breakfast rolls and mulling over the absence of a friend. Our monthly breakfast circle had evolved out of a preschool playgroup: when the children reached kindergarten age, their mothers wanted to stay in touch and continued to meet without them. I was a later addition to the group, invited by friends when I returned to northern Germany for fieldwork during the previous year.
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