(C) Gretchen Bakke

Dr. Gretchen Bakke

Affiliate Scholar

gretchen [dot] bakke [at] rifs-potsdam [dot] de
zum Blog

Gretchen Bakke joined RIFS as Senior Fellow in April 2021 in the midst of the quiet of the pandemic. She is a writer, photographer, and ethnographer with a strong interest in socio-cultural transformations and, most especially, the material dimensions of substantive change.

From 2018 to 2020 she was a Guest Professor at the Institute of European Ethnology at Humboldt University in Berlin and is she is also currently a Visiting Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, within the research theme Anthropocene Formations. In October of 2021 Bakke received a Heisenberg Fellowship from the DFG which will allow her to remain at RIFS for the next five years and hopefully beyond.

  • Changes to electricity systems with the mass-integration of renewables
  • Ethnographic investigations of the end of fossil fuel dominance in the energy sector and beyond
  • The imagination and its rhetorics, temporal folding and future dreaming, building and dismantling, collapse and renewal, discomfort and all that remains unrecoupable

Publications prior to joining the RIFS


  • The Likeness: Semblance and Self in Slovene Society. University of California Press 2020
  • The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between America and Our Energy Future. New York: Bloomsbury, 2016.

Edited Volumes

  • Anthropology of the Arts: A Reader. ed. with Marina Peterson, London: Bloomsbury, 2016
  • Between Matter and Method: Encounters in Anthropology and Art. ed. with Marina Peterson, London: Bloomsbury, 2017


  • 2022 "Refrigerator as Linchpin: A Brief History of the Fossil Fueled Electricity System" Handbook of Energy Humanities, G. Macdonald and J. Stewart eds. London: Routledge (forthcoming).
  • 2021 "Pivoting toward Energy Transition 2.0: Learning from Electricity," Research Handbook on Energy and Society, Webb, Tingey, and Wade eds., Cheltenham UK: Edward Elgar Publishing: 98-111.
  • 2019 "Electricity is not a Noun," Electrifying Anthropology: Explorations in Electric Practices and Infrastructures, Abram, Yarrow and Winthereik eds. New York: Bloomsbury: 25-42.
  • 2019 "Crude Thinking," The Rhetoric of Oil in the Twenty-First Century: Government, Corporate and Activist Discourses. Graves and Gordon. eds. London: Routledge: 34-55.


  • 2021 "What Fuels You?" in Solarities: Inflections and Refractions, A. Moore, C. Howe and J. Diamanti eds. New York: Punctum Books (forthcoming)
  • 2019 "Inland Tide Tables," "Raining Red Wisconsin, or, The Weather Takes Over," and "Steam Power" in Almanac for the Beyond, J. Faris ed. Honolulu: Tropic Editions: 45; 48-53; 86.
  • "Coalthink," The Big Picture: Infrastructure, Public Books. October 17, 2017. Link here
  • "Venezuela's Electricity Crises: A Cautionary Tale," The New Yorker, May 17, 2016. Link here