Arthur Mason

Areas of Interest: 
Energy and environmental policy; Petro-industry information firms; Elite premium network spaces; Extractive and restructuring industries; Hydrocarbon aesthetics; Arctic (US, Canada, Norway, Russia)    


I hold academic appointments at Rice University as Research Scientist in the Department of Anthropology and at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology as Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology. 

My US National Science Foundation sponsored research (2014-2018) addresses the exchange of petro-industry information in elite premium networking spaces and the broader context of energy knowledge provisioning for visualizing the future. My previous work examines social reproduction at critical junctures in Alaska Native history, including moments of identification and political recognition via forms of heritage work, citizenship, and academic expertise. My forthcoming research examines aesthetic perceptions in hydrocarbon imagery and interconnections between the Arctic’s changing environmental and cultural systems and other regions of the world. 

My book manuscript, titled Consulting Energy: From Political Hearings to Roundtable Events (under review) explores the reliance of Alaska state government on energy consultant expertise during a period federal government interest in Arctic natural gas development. I demonstrate the efficacy of consultant expertise in popularizing knowledge of energy futures through technical prediction and ritual-like learning environments. This work outlines a subtle but pervasive change in regulatory energy policy whereby a natural monopoly doctrine shifts to an expert-led community of interpretation based on continuous market knowledge provisioning. 

Research Grants: US National Science Foundation: Energy Futures of the High North: A New Approach to the Study of Experts, Institutions, and Forms of Knowledge that Guide Arctic Hydrocarbon Development, 2014-2018. 


(with Danine Farqharson, eds) Energy Image: Hydrocarbon Aesthetics of Progress and Form. University of West Virginia Press, series Energy & Society. 180 pages. Under contract, 2017.

Arctic Abstractive Industry: Assembling the Valuable and Vulnerable North (ed). Berghahan Press. Under contract, 2017.

Consulting Energy: From Political Hearings to Roundtable Events. Yale University Press. 220 pages. Under review. Yale University Press. 

(with Michael Watts and Hannah Appel, eds) Subterranean Estates: Lifeworlds of Oil and Gas. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015 (422 pp).

Journal Articles:

The Seigniorial Characteristic of Knowledge Provisioning at Energy Roundtable Events. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Special edited volume on energy with Mette High. Forthcoming, 2017.

Arctic Energy Image. Polar Geography,39(2):130–143. 2016.

Inside the Energy Salon: Installation and Illusions of Finality. Journal of Business Anthropology, 4(1):36-53, 2015.

Homo Energeticus: Maturity, Inheritance, and Identity. Environmental Research Letters, 8(1):1-9, 2013.

(with Maria Stoilkova) Corporeality of Consultant Expertise. Journal of Northern Studies, 6(2):83-96, 2012.

Alaska Natural Gas Industry Restructuring as Ethnographic Present. The Polar Journal, 2(1): 75-90, 2012.

Forms of Time in Alaska Natural Gas Development. Polar Record, 48(2):1-11, 2011.

Of Enlightenment and Alaska Early Moderns. Identities: Global Studies in Power and Culture, 7(4):411-429, 2010.

Neglected Structures of Governance in US-Canadian Cross-Border Relations. American Review of Canadian Studies, 38(2):212-222, 2008.

Vanguard Alutiiq Heritage Practice and the Import of Expertise. Inuit Studies, 32(2):107-125, 2008.

The Rise of Consultant Forecasting in Liberalized Natural Gas Markets. Public Culture: Interdisciplinary Journal of Transnational Cultural Studies, 19(2):367-379, 2007.

Images of the Energy Future. Environmental Research Letters, 1(1): 20-25, 2006.

The Condition of Market Formation on Alaska's Natural Gas Frontier. Focaal,

European Journal of Anthropology, 46:54-67, 2005.

The Rise of an Alaska Native Bourgeoisie. Inuit Studies, 26(2):5-23, 2002.

Book Chapters: 

Introduction. Arctic Abstractive Industry: Assembling the Valuable and Vulnerable North (ed). Berghahan Press. Forthcoming, 2017.

Empathy for the Graph. In Energy Image: Hydrocarbon Aesthetics of Progress and Form, A. Mason and D. Farqharson. University of West Virginia Press. Forthcoming, 2017.

(with Danine Farqharson) Introduction: Hydrocarbon Aesthetics. In Energy Image: Hydrocarbon Aesthetics of Progress and Form. A. Mason and D. Farqharson (eds). University of West Virginia Press. Forthcoming, 2017.

Consulting Energy: Intermediary Expertise in Arctic Natural Gas Development. In Routledge Handbook of the Arctic, M. Nuttal (ed). Forthcoming, 2017.

(with Hannah Appel, Michael Watts), Introduction. In Subterranean Estates: Lifeworlds of Oil and Gas, H. Appel, A. Mason, M. Watts (eds), Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1-26, 2015.

Events Collectives: The Social Life of a Promise-Disappointed Cycle. In Subterranean Estates: Lifeworlds of Oil and Gas, H. Appel, A. Mason, M. Watts (eds) Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 315-329, 2015.

The Growth Imperative: Intermediaries, Discourse Frameworks, and the Arctic. In Polar Diplomacy: Energy, the Environment, and Emergent Cooperation in the Arctic, S. Ali, R. Pincus (eds.) Yale University Press, 41-52, 2015.

Cartel Consciousness and Horizontal Integration in Energy Industry.  In Cultures of Energy: Anthropological Perspectives on Power, S. Strauss, S. Rupp, T. Love (eds) Left Coast Press, 126-138, 2013.

Whither the Historicities of Alutiiq Heritage Work are Drifting. In Indigenous Cosmopolitans: Transnational Indigeneity in the Twenty-First Century, M. Forte (ed), New York: Peter Lang, 77-96, 2010.

Minor Publications: 

Review of A. Simpson's Energy, Governance and Security in Thailand and Myanmar (Burma): A Critical Approach to Environmental Politics in the South. Political and Legal Anthropology Review, forthcoming, 2017.

Introduction: Assembling the Valuable and Vulnerable North. Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website. July 29, 2016.

Arctic Abstractive Industry. Edited collection of fourteen author essays for Hot Spots, Cultural Anthropology website. July 29, 2016.

Naming an Endless Process of Indigenization. Current Anthropology. December, 56(6): 925-926. 2015. Book review of J. Clifford’s Returns: Becoming Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century.

New Research on Russian Arctic Gas Development. International Arctic Social Sciences, 34(4):17-21, 2010.

(Jen Baeseman, Najune Menka) Resources for the Next Generation of Polar Scientists. Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, 10(2):18-20, 2008.

Arctic Natural Gas: Reserves and Production. Encyclopedia of the Arctic, M. Nuttall (ed), New York: Routledge Press. 698-706, 2004.



Arthur Mason

Adjunct Associate Professor and Research Scientist