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  • Combustion_Society2014

    Rights statement: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Theory, Culture and Society 31 (5), 2014, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2014 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Theory, Culture and Society page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/tcs/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/

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Combustion and Society: A Fire-Centred History of Energy Use

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>09/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Theory, Culture and Society
Issue number5
Volume31
Number of pages24
Pages (from-to)203-226
<mark>State</mark>Published
Early online date2/07/14
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Fire is a force that links everyday human activities to some of the most powerful energetic movements of the Earth. Drawing together the energy-centred social theory of Georges Bataille, the fire-centred environmental history of Stephen Pyne, and the work of a number of ‘pyrotechnology’ scholars, the paper proposes that the generalized study of combustion is a key to contextualizing human energetic practices within a broader ‘economy’ of terrestrial and cosmic energy flows. We examine the relatively recent turn towards fossil-fuelled ‘internal combustion’ in the light of a much longer human history of ‘broadcast’ burning of vegetation and of artisanal pyrotechnologies – the use of heat to transform diverse materials. A combustion-centred analysis, it is argued, brings human collective life into closer contact with the geochemical and geologic conditions of earthly existence, while also pointing to the significance of explorative, experimental and even playful dispositions towards energy and matter.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Theory, Culture and Society 31 (5), 2014, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2014 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Theory, Culture and Society page:
http://journals.sagepub.com/home/tcs/ on SAGE Journals Online:
http://journals.sagepub.com/