Alice Owen



Host Institute



University of Brighton

Personal page at UofB


Alice Owen photo Topic Drilling through the Anthropocene: Knowledge and Power in the Contentious Politics of Fracking in England .





Rebecca Elmhirst, Mark Erickson, Kirsten Jenkins 

Secondment 1 Fondazione Pangea





Simona Lanzoni

Secondment 2 Institute of Social Studies





Wendy Harcourt




United Kingdom

After completing a degree in Geography at the University of Edinburgh, Alice Owen studied a Masters Human Ecology in Lund, Sweden, which also included an internship as a researcher for the Environmental Justice Atlas in Barcelona focusing on ‘Blockadia’ grassroots climate justice social movements. 
Activism makes its way into Alice’s research as well as her spare time, and her Master’s thesis examined how environmental resistances in Europe are also places where Degrowth ideas are a lived reality. 

In her PhD research, Alice is continuing to engage with activist communities as she explores the contentious knowledge politics of fracking and unconventional fossil fuel extraction in the UK. She is interested in exploring the multiple injustices the industries are bringing to the communities, including the environmental and climate injustices as well as the connected social and epistemological injustices, and exploring how campaigners build resilient and often successful responses to these.  

Objectives of the research

Shale gas extraction via hydraulic fracturing (‘fracking’) has recently been presented as an important element in Britain’s search for energy security and ‘green growth’. Shale gas has been described as the ‘cleanest fossil fuel’ available, essential for securing a ‘much greener future’. The UK has also implemented legal changes, which allow for the extraction of subsurface hydrocarbon resources at depths in excess of 300m without landowner permission following a public consultation, the outcome of which was not supportive of the proposed changes. Concerns have also been raised about the extent to which the legal definition of fracking, under the UK Infrastructure Act (2015), exempts most shale gas extraction from legislation governing planning permission. The ESR project will explore shale gas extraction in contemporary Britain via a ‘polymorphous engagement’ with home- and landowners in fracking sites, anti-fracking campaign groups, geological and legal experts and policymakers. It will draw on FPE and feminist postcolonial science and technology studies in order to explore how technoscientific expertise and authority is empowered and contested by those whose land and relationships with nature are likely to be reconfigured by shale gas extraction, in a context where scientific expertise is increasingly disputed in political arenas.

Expected Results

The study will provide an opportunity for theory-building on the interface between postcolonialism, feminist science and technology studies and FPE.

Progress update

For Alice, 2020 began with fieldwork. This included the attendance and participation in the diverse events relevant to the community with whom she is researching for ethnographic research. With the pandemic restrictions in place since the spring, all research then had to be conducted online so she has participated in virtual events and conducted interviews via video call. Her initial findings were prepared for the University’s Annual Progress Review in the summer, and research continued throughout the autumn and winter. Alongside her research, she has participated in a series of doctoral training courses offered by the University of Brighton through the University of East Anglia as well as the online WEGO-ITN training lab. Various online webinars and conferences also became available in the pandemic context which have been important learning and sharing opportunities, such as the EXALT conference. Following the partnership with ONCA Gallery in Brighton in 2019, she continued to work with the Extracting Us curatorial collective to host an online exhibition; she also submitted her own work to the exhibition. She also participated as a panelist in a discussion with ONCA and Fabrica Gallery in Brighton. She has also been part of the Degrowth 2021 organising collective.

Publications by Alice Owen


Blogs by Alice Owen

political ecologies of extractivism

‘Extracting Us’ Exhibition and Conversation Launches Online

Following the experience of co-curating the exhibition “Extracting Us. Looking Differently: Feminism, Politics and Coal Extraction” at ONCA gallery in ...
going beyond extractivism

Going beyond extractive methodologies to research extractivism

Early bluebells, a sign undisturbed land, growing in front of the Horse Hill oil production site. The Horse Hill oil ...
navigating climate politics cop25

Navigating climate politics: reflections on COP25 in Madrid

In December 2019, WEGO PhD researchers Alice Owen and Eunice Wangari joined the thousands of negotiators, climate action advocates and ...
Convento in Bolsena Italy

Summer school Bolsena: notes from a feminist writing retreat

For a week in August part of the WEGO team gathered with other academics and activists of diverse places, ages ...