Empire of the Sun: Imagining and Constructing Solar Energy in Colonial India, 1878-1915

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Sebastian Egholm Lund


PhD Fellow


University of Oxford


DKK 1,000,000




Visiting Fellowships at University of Oxford


The project examines how British engineers William Adams, H.F. Bishop, and A.S.E. Ackermann, British and Indian authors H. G. Wells and Rokeya Hossain, and the greater colonial newspapers the Bombay Gazette, The Civil & Military Gazette, and The Englishman constructed and imagined solar energy as an imperial infrastructure in the period of 1878-1915.


The energy humanist project proposes the term “solar imperialism” to describe a hitherto unstudied doctrine that imagines the extension of geopolitical power through the control of solar energy because it provides a correction to the understanding of modern solar energy which can reflexively contribute to a new and more nuanced understanding of the contemporary global energy transition.


The project looks at energy not only from a material, economic, or technological perspective but from a humanist perspective, interrogating the imperial discourse in treatises by solar engineers, the decolonial agenda of speculative fiction, and the public agenda of colonial newspapers to arrive at a fuller and more complex understanding of how of culture and science mediates energy transition.

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