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Life Without Lights (Electric Affinities)

Thursday Lecture Series

dateNovember 13, 2014 timeThursday, 12:15pm EST location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Bright light against dark night sky

This talk explores the empirical phenomenon of light – specifically electric light – as at once a moral and metaphysical, spiritual (even quasi-vitalist) and infrastructural event. Based on ethnographic and archival research in northern Ghana, the talk reconsiders the purported status of this region as an abject space of darkness – as a shadowy “Muslim stronghold” and hence abode of demons (according to the country’s charismatic Christians) and as a destitute, underdeveloped milieu of “energy poverty” (according to the country’s NGOs) – in order to sketch the contours of an anthropology of light in contemporary Africa more generally.