Transforming rural light and dark under planetary urbanisation: comparing ordinary countrysides in India and the UK

Ankit Kumar, Robert Shaw (Corresponding author)

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14 Citations (Scopus)
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Contemporary global lightscapes are becoming increasingly complex and varied, creating an unusual geography of technological development and diffusion that defies many easy narratives of global interconnectivity. Specifically, new LED lighting technologies are being created through rural experimentation in both Global North and Global South. This makes lighting, and darkness, an interesting lens through which to intervene in debates on the relationship between city, countryside, and planet, specifically addressing the theoretical developments of comparative urbanism and planetary urbanisation. Heading calls to develop conceptual material from both Global North and Global South, we use case studies from Bihar (India) and the North Pennines (UK) to argue that the changing lighting technologies and practices show how “ordinary countrysides” are contributing to new planetary ways of living. We argue that while there are differences in how darkness and the implementation of artificial lighting are perceived in these sites, there are similarities that reveal an ongoing rural form of planetary living, outside the claims of urbanisation. Particularly, rural lives are marked by a closer connection to the planet, as expressed through experiences of rural darkness. Furthermore, in both sites the tenuous grasp on infrastructure and state services seems to reveal a shared rural experience. These findings suggest shared rural experiences of globalisation, but that the socio-spatial contexts of places remain important in understanding their location within global systems. Furthermore, we join recent calls to suggest that further exploration of the difference between “global” and “planetary” might add nuance to theoretical trends in urban studies, rural studies, and geography.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-167
Number of pages13
JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • India
  • UK
  • countryside
  • darkness
  • lighting
  • planetary urbanization


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