Myles Lennon

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Yale U.

Grant number

Gr. 9417

Approve Date

April 18, 2017

Project Title

Lennon, Myles B., Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Subjects of the Sun: Solar Technologies and Political Imaginaries from Wall Street to West Harlem,' supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove

MYLES B. LENNON, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, received a grant in April 2017 to aid research on ‘Subjects of the Sun: Solar Technologies and Political Imaginaries from Wall Street to West Harlem,’ supervised by Dr. Michael R. Dove. What futures emerge when the technocratic neoliberalism of clean energy experts cross-pollinates with the radical populism of anti-capitalist activists to spur infrastructural responses to the looming climate crisis? The research grappled with this question by exploring how rooftop solar, ‘resiliency’ microgrids, and other climate mitigation infrastructures materialize across long-standing race and class divisions in New York City. Tracing the interplay of the sun, the city’s racially segregated building stock, algorithmic representations of electricity, clean tech corporations, and grassroots climate justice coalitions, the study found that renewable energy transitions emerge not simply through the right policies or investments as linear mitigation models suggest, but also through the coaction of technologies, the built environment, and the biosphere on the one hand, and differently raced and classed social groups on the other. Funding supported the exploration of this interactivity by ethnographically following the emergence of unlikely coalitions of corporations and activists that have uprooted entrenched intersectional divides, destabilizing the political boundaries between a grassroots social justice ethos and top-down technoscientific ideology. It found that this convergence is partly attributable to the material and biophysical properties of solar energy technologies as they take shape in the city’s diverse skyline.