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Postdoctoral Fellow

Tel +64 3 479 3920

Abbi is a social scientist, originally from Canada where she earned a BA in anthropology from Laurentian University. Her interest in natural history directed her doctoral research into an exploration of the foraging landscape within Dunedin, New Zealand. She took an interdisciplinary approach to the construction of her foraging ethnography; examining historical archives, contemporary media, government legislation and scientific reports and wove them into forager's narratives. The genealogy which developed from this ethnography told a story of colonial dispossession whereby the settler transformation of Aotearoa resulted in an ecological and affective environment particular to the settler state. The stories of foragers in Dunedin expressed the ways in which human and non-human bodies are constrained by the affective settler environment, but also highlighted the ways in which they contested and resisted them. She has recently submitted her PhD thesis for examination.

Her research areas include science and technology studies (STS), post-humanism and post-colonialism. Her research fits best within the area of material-semiotics, which explores the dynamic capacities of non-human materials in human spaces. She takes a particularly critical approach, looking at how materials participate in complex, historical social relations such as colonization. This perspective allows for a more active interpretation of technological materials, observing how non-human enrolment contributes to the experience of our social worlds (both present and historical). Her research tends to spread into other disciplines including; political ecology, critical histories, and queer theory.

Research projects

Abbi is currently working as a research fellow within the Green Hydrogen Transitions Project (GNS). This interdisciplinary, multi-year research project aims to explore the potential for green hydrogen within the future energy culture of New Zealand. As a social scientist, Abbi is looking at the techno-social dynamics associated with green hydrogen technology. She is particularly interested in exploring how social relations could be reproduced or transformed by this emerging technology.


Virens, A. (2024). Green hydrogen futures: Tensions of energy and justice within sociotechnical imaginaries. Energy Research & Social Science, 114, 103587. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2024.103587 Journal - Research Article

Virens, A., & Belt, O. (2024). Archival research on early settler relationship to place. Pūhau ana te rā: Tailwinds, 2(1). doi: 10.11157/patr.v2i1.34 Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Evans, J., & Virens, A. (2024). Anticipating future technologies: Exploring green hydrogen in New Zealand media. Pūhau ana te rā: Tailwinds, 2(1). doi: 10.11157/patr.v2i1.39 Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Virens, A. (2024, January-February). Exploring energy futures through green hydrogen's sociotechnical narrative. Invited presentation at the Second New Zealand Hydrogen Symposium (NZHS), Wellington, New Zealand. Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Virens, A. (2023). Plants out of place: How appreciation of weeds unsettles nature in New Zealand. New Zealand Geographer. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/nzg.12364 Journal - Research Article

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