The 100th Object: Solar Lighting Technology and Humanitarian Goods

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At the end of 2010 the British Museum unveiled the final artefact in their exhibition ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, a portable solar powered lamp designed for and sold to people living without access to mains electricity in Africa and Asia. Following the 100th object from its conception in a Stanford University classroom to points of sale and use in rural India the article explores the work involved in attaching a humanitarian ethic of care and an ethic of commercial or economic interest to goods like this one. Drawing on traditions in the social study of technology and building on the theoretical vocabulary of Michel Callon the article sets out to establish an agenda for engaging with the material politics of ‘bottom of the pyramid’ markets for ultra
affordable energy technologies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Material Culture
Issue number4
Early online date10 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • solar
  • light
  • technology
  • Callon
  • bottom of the pyramid


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