Solar Water Heaters, Subjectivity, and Citizenship in Southwestern China

This project examines the impacts of solar water heaters (SWHs) on users’ energy use behaviors and on their understanding of the state and the environment in the city of Kunming of Yunnan province in China. By paying attention to the role of solar water heaters, the overall objective is to understand how these mundane renewable energy technologies have affected users’ ways of understanding and engaging with the state, environment, and energy in Kunming. The empirical question that drives this project is the following: If users could reduce their energy bills and carbon footprints through the use of solar water heaters, enabling them to get hot water without depending on the state’s electricity supply, how has that changed the ways in which the users understand and treat (their relationships with) the state as an electricity provider and the environment, as well as their energy conservation/consumption behaviors in daily life.

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