Academic Hour: Capitalising on the Sun: Solar Energy and the Indian Ocean

By Jamie Cross, Social Anthropology, University of Edinburgh

2017.08.21 | Nynne Visbo-Bomose

Date Wed 04 Oct
Time 13:00 15:00
Location Lecture Hall (4206-139), Moesgaard Campus

This paper looks above the Indian Ocean to explore the power of the sun - sunshine, sunlight and solar energy - in the making of political economy and global capitalism. Treading between anthropology and geography, science/technology studies and the environmental humanities this paper argues that the material power of sunlight on Indian Ocean worlds has been overlooked, despite the significance of the sun on marine ecology, colonial navigation, and the highly concentrated, buried stores of solar energy that are accumulated in the region’s fossil fuel reserves. Today, across the Indian Ocean, relationships to the sun are being mediated by a new material technology, the photovoltaic solar cell that converts sunlight into electricity. The abundance and promise of solar energy here is creating new, post carbon arenas for capitalism, evident in large-scale solar infrastructure projects and emerging markets for off grid solar technology. By opening the solar industry up to critical examination and following the production and circulation of off grid photovoltaic technology this paper examines how Indian Ocean sunlight is being reconstituted as a material resource. In doing so, it shows how attempts to capitalise on the power of the sun are sustaining and reworking political and economic forms.

Afdeling, Antropologi