Elemental Encounters and Refractions
Solarities: Elemental Encounters and Refractions is a transdiciplinary essay collection that explores the physical, conceptual, and political possibilities materialized by “solarity”— a form of relation to the sun and its elemental force upon planetary life. The authors propose that a different set of questions becomes possible when the material specificities of solar become the compass for thought, prompting us to uncover our relationship to the sun. How does solarity materialize in the bodies and lives of humans and non-humans now and in the future? What can we learn if we no longer take the sun for granted? How do we continue to persist on a planet that is so intimately bound up in a state of love, fear, and dependence on this primary source of all living energy? Each of the essays in Solarities take solar radiation as an interpretive lens that takes multiple forms, often transforming as it does so. Solarities draws inspiration from Black ecologies, Indigenous philosophy, feminist science & technology studies, and more-than-human discussions in the human sciences, recognizing the phenomenological and ontological openings they make available. The authors understand solarity as an energy source (channeled through photovoltaic cells, for example), but the essays gathered here focus on the lives that solarity creates or impedes. The experimental task is to find how solarities work their way into materials and processes across our work, seeking out the particular influences of solarity in making being(s). These relations are core to thinking the elemental conditions of solarity, since it is through particular forms of focalizing the sun that life is sustained, or made to wither, across the planet. In these ways, the elemental condition of solarity is at once hyper-particular and also shared across organic and inorganic bodies, conditioned by physical form and material composition. Throughout the collection, the authors explore how solarity appears or recedes from view when we concentrate our attentions on it, surfacing the existential omnipresence of the sun to open new thought possibilities, inspire new actions, and refract new dimensions of socionatural encounter.
Publication date and placeBrooklyn, NY, 2023
Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography
Solar system: the Sun & planets