What is the solar assemblage?

This blog is an attempt to connect some of the materials and relationships involved in the sale of solar technology to people living without access to mains electricity across the global south. The emergence of these ‘poor markets’ for solar photovoltaics and their applications (light, refrigeration, telecommunications) bring together political mobilisations around climate change and international development, bodies of scientific and economic expertise, the commercial interests of large and small-scale entrepreneurs, and an array of material technologies. Taken together, we might describe the emergence of something like a global solar assemblage that coheres around the idea that applications for solar energy present solutions to problems of energy and development.

I hope to use this blog to begin to think about and understand this assemblage. My plan is to use the space to engage with the diverse pieces of information related to renewable energy and low-carbon development that I encounter on a daily basis, and to formulate the kinds of problems and questions that they provoke for anthropology. My intention is for the ideas that are generated here to lay the groundwork for future publications, research collaborations and grant applications.

This is an experimental or sandbox space. I have taken inspiration from other anthropologists who are turning to the blog as an open, intellectual arena in which they can develop lines of inquiry and forge new connections with a wider community of interested people.

There are many people interested in following renewable energy technologies into and through contexts of ‘international development’. Some of them are currently involved in or are planning research projects around solar energy, some of them are currently writing up their work. Some of them I am in contact with and others I would like to hear from.

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