Sean Cubitt has just published an article in Theory, Culture & Society on ‘Electric Light and Electricity‘. It’s currently on the ‘online first’ section if the journal, so I assume it will be in an issue next year. Here is the abstract:
This paper argues that cultural analyses of electric light, including aspects of actor-network theory, may raise the spectre of complexity, but do not do it justice when they omit to provide analysis of the intertwined roles of culture and political economy in the formation of the provision and use of electric light. The essay looks at the marketization of electric power, at outages in the eastern and western US megacities, at the collapse of the public utility model and chaotic implementation of market models in Mumbai, Lagos and other poor megacities, and concludes that while theft of power provides a temporary solution, abandoning centralized market models in favour of microgrids is the only sure way to return agency to slum dwellers.