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You are here: FRIAS Fellows Fellows' Archive Prof. Dr. Petra Dolata

Prof. Dr. Petra Dolata

University of Calgary
Energy History
External Senior Fellow (Marie S. Curie FCFP)
February 2021 - April 2021


Petra Dolata is Associate Professor of History at the University of Calgary and Scholar in Residence at the Calgary Institute for the Humanities, where she co-convenes the Energy InSociety research group. From 2014 to 2019 she was Canada Research Chair in the History of Energy. She holds a Master’s degree in American Studies from Ruhr-Universität Bochum, where she also received her PhD in International Relations with a study on US-German (energy) relations in the late 1950s and early 1960s, published as a monograph in 2006 (Die deutsche Kohlenkrise im nationalen und transatlantischen Kontext). Before joining the University of Calgary in 2014, she was Assistant Professor of North American History at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany and Lecturer in International Politics at King’s College London, UK. Her research focuses on European and North American energy history after 1945, specifically the history of energy transitions and the 1970s energy crises. She is the principal investigator of a research project funded by the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) entitled “The 1970s Energy Crises and Energy Security: A Cross-national and Transatlantic History” (2017-2022) and one of the lead scholars on a 7-year SSHRC-funded Partnership project on “Deindustrialization and the Politics of our Time” (2020-2027) which is based at the University of Concordia’s Centre for Oral History and Digital Storytelling under the direction of Steven High.

Selected Publications

  • Petra Dolata-Kreutzkamp. Die deutsche Kohlenkrise im nationalen und transatlantischen Kontext(Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 2006).
  • “Women and Energy in the Ruhr Area of West Germany, 1950s–1980s.” RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society  2020, 1 (2020): 51-55.
  • Petra Dolata. “Complex Agency in the Great Acceleration: Women and Energy Transition in the Ruhr Area after 1945.” In: Abigail Harrison Moore and Ruth Sandwell (eds.). A New Light: Histories of Women and Energy(Montréal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2021). in press
  • Petra Dolata. “Sustainability in the Anthropocene:From Forests to the Globe.” In: Geoffrey Rockwell, Chelsea Miya and Oliver Rossier (eds.). Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene (Cambridge: Open Book Publishers, 2021). forthcoming

FRIAS Research Project

Women in Energy Transitions: Agency, Resilience and Complicity

This research project aims to make the role of women in energy transitions more visible. Redefining “Strukturwandel” as an energy transition, it examines the role of women in the Ruhr coal region between 1960 and 1980. It pleads for a more nuanced understanding of the ways that women are both impacted by and in­strumental in shaping and resisting energy systems, which are considered social systems. Since industrialization, the separation between public and private spheres led women to be defined by their nurturing roles as wives and mothers. Their engagement with dominant energy systems based on fossil fuels was determined through their passive role as consumers of these modern energy carriers while their resistance to them was driven by their responsibilities as caring moth­ers of children that were affected by fossil fuels’ detrimental health impacts such as air pollution. Even if they labored in energy industries, most historical studies disregard women’s specific am­bivalent role in energy systems. As a consequence, women often only enter energy histories as consumers of energy, especially in the home. Focusing on women’s agency, resilience and com­plicity in past energy transitions will help us understand the “messiness” und unpredictability of human agency in energy transitions more generally and provide historical insights into ques­tions of energy justice: who decides on new energy systems, who is left behind and who is most impacted by these changes?