This article tracks solarity beyond the sun. It documents what the author calls embedded solarities, the manifestations of being solar in social practice, infrastructural assemblages, and human and non-human life. Focusing on two cases of mediating sunlight in agricultural practice—the management of chickens’ reproductive cycles and the negotiation of shade for agricultural laborers—the article dismantles the classical solar subject, who simply receives the sun’s rays as a gift. Instead of assuming that solar reception simply produces growth, this article proposes that sunlight can be accessed only through mediation. Moreover, it can be weaponized through architectural and social formations as easily as it can be made beneficial. In place of a model that privileges the sun as the source of generous radiance and humans as its primary recipients, an attunement to embedded solarities directs attention to the solar resources, effects, and affects latent in the environment. In particular, it directs us to the phenomenon of radiant life—the ways that life not only is sustained through the ongoing management of solar radiance, but also is itself materialized as radiant, entangled in a field of spectral exchange.
Beyond the Sun: Embedded Solarities and Agricultural Practice
Nicole Starosielski is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. She is author of The Undersea Network (2015) and coeditor of Signal Traffic: Critical Studies of Media Infrastructure (2015), Sustainable Media: Critical Approaches to Media and Environment (2016), and Assembly Codes: The Logistics of Media (forthcoming).
Nicole Starosielski; Beyond the Sun: Embedded Solarities and Agricultural Practice. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2021; 120 (1): 13–24. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-8795668
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