Light(s) and darkness(es): Shifting historical relations


Light(s) and darkness(es): Looking back, looking forward

Associate Professor, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne


Associate Professor, Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

Twitter: @SaraBPritchard

In this special issue, we argue that light(s) and darkness(es) should be understood in their multiplicity, and that they constitute two aspects of the same phenomenon. They should, therefore, be studied in relation to each other. The complex dynamics of light and dark are more integral to the…

The organization of space and time in the quartier Mu of Malia (Crete, bronze age, 3200-1100 BC), in light of lamps

Ph.D candidate, Arscan, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

In recent decades, the development of virtual reality has allowed us to propose realistic reconstructions of lighting in Bronze Age buildings of the Eastern Mediterranean and Aegean world. However, light and darkness have…

The public lantern’s interplay of light and darkness: between security-based expansions, savings-based extinguishings, and the limitations of technical innovation (Paris, Barcelona, 18th C.)

PhD, Centre Alexandre Koyré, EHESS Paris

The gap between the early modern policing ideal of a homogeneous—“geometric”—perception of the urban fabric thanks to street lighting, and the persistent reality of dark areas, was particularly clear during periods of turmoil in the public order. In both Paris and Barcelona, the revolutionary…

Contested nightscapes: Illuminating colonial Bombay

Department of History and European Ethnology, University of Innsbruck (Austria)

In the British Raj, colonial lighting oscillated between “Tool of Empire” and everyday technology. While the British used modern lighting to visualize power and accentuate social differences, it was also a contested object of appropriation and protest. In fact, both colonial light and darkness…

Taming darkness: A new program for Paris cinema architecture between 1914 and 1921

LRA – laboratoire d’architecture de Toulouse

During the 19th C., the Industrial Revolution and technical advances from the modern era led to the massive use of glass in architectural constructions, which contributed to the transparency of volumes as well as…

What is French about the “French fear of darkness”? The co-production of imagined communities of light and energy

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ

This essay takes expert assumptions about light preferences as a starting point for a historical inquiry into what I call imagined sociotechnical communities of light and energy. My argument is that historical energy supply systems produced these imaginaries and vice versa, shifting the scales…

Bargaining electric power: Miners, blackouts, and the politics of illumination in the United States, 1965-1979

Postdoctoral Social Sciences Teaching Fellow, University of Chicago 
Twitter: @trishkahle  

This article examines how the perils conjured by blackouts in American cities after 1965 became interpreted as a key point of political and bargaining leverage for the nation’s coal miners. The anxieties provoked by these blackouts –sexual deviance, urban unrest, spoiled food, lost productivity…

Dark futures: the loss of night in the contemporary city?

ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University

The artificial but widely held binary conceptions of day versus night find themselves condensed in cities where strategies to recalibrate the nocturnal urban landscape are abundant. This transformation requires considerable energies and technologies to facilitate illumination. The night-time…

Epilogue. Field notes from the end of the world: Light, darkness, energy, and endscape in polar night

Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University

Twitter: @SaraBPritchard

This personal essay describes light(s) and darkness(es) in Longyearbyen, Svalbard (Norway) during polar night in January 2019. Drawing on autoethnographic methods, I also seek to describe how I experienced the remarkable…