Solarities: Elemental Encounters and Refractions

In this transdisciplinary collection we explore the physical, conceptual, and political possibilities materialized by “solarity”— a form of relation to the sun and its elemental force upon planetary life. We believe that a different set of questions become 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 the primary source of all living energy? Each of the essays in Solarities: Elemental Encounters and Refractions, written by both emerging and established scholars, take solar radiation as an interpretive lens that takes multiple forms, often transforming as it does so.

We draw inspiration from Black Ecologies, Indigenous philosophy, feminist STS, and more-than-human discussions in the human sciences, recognizing the phenomenological and ontological openings they make available. We appreciate solarity as an energy source (channeled through photovoltaic cells for example) but here we focus on the lives that solarity creates or impedes. Our 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 we explore how solarity appears or recedes from view when we concentrate our attentions on it. We surface the existential omnipresence of the sun to open new thought possibilities, inspire new actions and refract new dimensions of socionatural encounter.

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