Electricity Access, Energy Development, Political Economy, Critical Theory, Electric Power Systems, Theories of the Global South, Postcolonial Studies


I am human geographer interested in the links between energy infrastructure, development, and environmental justice. Situating my work in electricity services in sub-Saharan Africa and within “modern energy for all” and “electrify everything” movements, I interrogate how and why various assumptions within electricity development dominate the discourse and affect policy and technology. Specifically, I am interested in the relational processes that (re)produce socio-material conditions within electricity services characterized by expensive and erratic access. While most of my work to date has been in Tanzania, I am currently conducting historical and comparative research across grid systems in the US (in the Bay Area) and Ghana (in Accra). Methodologically, I employ both rigorous quantitative and qualitative methods. My main research activities include exploratory hypothesis generating, interviews and grounded theory, instrumentation and survey design, statistical analysis, and archeological and genealogical methods (following Foucault). I use ethnography to help explore the myriad of ways meanings get constructed and experienced. When possible, I couple ethnographic work with systematic observations and measurements to inform my understanding of how day-to-day experiences relate to broader patterns, and how those patterns and experiences get translated over space and time. Guided by a rigorous understanding of electric power systems and critical social theory, my research contributes to the political economy of development and the environment, critical urban studies, and theories of the Global South. 

Prior to joining Temple University, I was a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Environmental Studies Program at UC Santa Barbara, working with sociologist David Pellow. I earned my PhD in the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, with a designated emphasis in the Program in Critical Theory and hold a BS in Engineering Physics from University of Illinois, at Urbana-Champaign.


Selected Publications

  • Jacome, V., Klugman, N., Wolfram, C., Grunfeld, B., Callaway, D., & Ray, I. (2019). Power quality and modern energy for all. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(33), 16308-16313.
  • Jacome, V., & Ray, I. (2018). The prepaid electric meter: Rights, relationships and reification in Unguja, Tanzania. World Development, 105, 262-272

Courses Taught

  • Political Economy of Energy Development