Universitetslektor, biträdandeSchool of Global
About Gustav Cederlöf
Associate Senior Lecturer in Human Ecology
I am an environmental geographer whose research examines the politics and cultural dimensions of environmental change. I focus on questions of property, unequal access and conflict in the context of energy use and low-carbon development. I have done extensive fieldwork in Cuba and have a particular interest in lived experiences of radical development practices.
I joined the School of Global Studies in 2021 following eight years at King’s College London. I received a PhD in Geography from King’s and was later a Teaching Fellow in the university’s Department of International Development. In 2018–19 I held an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship in a collaboration between King’s College London, Imperial College London and Queen Mary University of London, after which I took up a lectureship in Liberal Arts & Geography at King’s. I previously also taught in the Department of Geography & Environment at the London School of Economics.
- 2010 BA in Development Studies, Uppsala University
- 2013 MSc in Human Ecology, Lund University
- 2017 PhD in Geography, King’s College London
(i) Geographies of energy transition and low-carbon development
My main area of research focuses on how the uses of different energy sources, such as fossil fuels, enable particular spatial patterns of social and economic activity. The question is then how an energy transition upsets and reconfigures these patterns in (often) socially unequal and politically contentious ways. I am especially interested in the links between energy production and land use, infrastructure and state formation, and energy use and urban form.
The monograph The Low Carbon Contradiction, forthcoming with the University of California Press in 2023, develops this research theme via an in-depth study of Cuba’s dramatic energy history and how the country’s deep energy crisis in the 1990s reconfigured the socialist state.
(ii) Radical development and urbanisation
I have a longstanding interest in radical development paradigms with a special focus on Marxist politics and the Cuban revolution. I have expertise in Cuban and Latin American history more widely and have explored this theme in relation to Cuban “anti-urban” planning, nuclear power and urban agriculture.
(iii) Energy, materiality and knowledge
A third theme involves research on the elusive concept of “energy”. I have examined different ontological assumptions about what “energy” is, and especially the implications of a thermodynamic understanding of energy for social theory. This combines with an interest in the epistemological problems that arise when we produce knowledge about the environmental impacts of energy sources and energy technologies.
(iv) Political ecology
Finally, writing for a broader audience, I am currently working on a new foundational textbook for the field of political ecology (with Dr Alex Loftus). Discovering Political Ecology (Routledge, 2023) will introduce key concepts and themes in the field by engaging with decolonial debates, seeking to move beyond an established Anglo-American canon.
I teach and supervise dissertations across the School’s offering in human ecology and global studies. I currently convene the following modules:
- GS1422 Project Management and Evaluation
- HU1221 Sustainable Cities
- HU1232 The History of Sustainable Development
- ESD400 Economy, Global Inequality and Pathways to Sustainability
- (PhD level) Political Ecology: Conflict, Power and Sustainability
The Low-Carbon Contradiction: Energy Transition, Geopolitics, and the Infrastructual State in
Gustav Cederlöf, Alex Loftus
Louis A. Pérez Jr., Rice in the Time of Sugar: The Political Economy of Food in Cuba (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2019), pp. xiv + 249, $29.95
Journal of Latin American Studies - 2021
Out of steam: Energy, materiality, and political
Progress in Human Geography - 2021
System boundaries as epistemological and ethnographic problems: assessing energy technology and socio-environmental
Gustav Cederlöf, Alf Hornborg
Journal of Political Ecology - 2021
Maintaining power: Decarbonisation and recentralisation in Cuba’s Energy
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers - 2020
The revolutionary city: Socialist urbanisation and nuclear modernity in Cienfuegos,
Journal of Latin American Studies - 2020
Review of Daggett, Cara New. 2019. The Birth Of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, and the Politics of
Journal of Political Ecology - 2020
Has Cuba exposed the myth of “free” solar power? Energy, space, and
Alf Hornborg, Gustav Cederlöf, Andreas Roos
Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space - 2019
On PetroCaribe: Petropolitics, energopower, and post-neoliberal development in the Caribbean energy
Gustav Cederlöf, Donald V. Kingsbury
Political Geography - 2019
Undergraduate student perceptions of assessment and feedback practice: fostering agency and
Robert A. Francis, James D.A. Millington, Gustav Cederlöf
Journal of Geography in Higher Education - 2019
Low-carbon food supply: the ecological geography of Cuban urban agriculture and agroecological
Agriculture and Human Values - 2016
Thermodynamics revisited: The political ecology of energy systems in historical
The International Handbook of Political Ecology - 2015