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School of Social and Political Science: Graduate school


Declan Murray

Declan Murray
Declan Murray
International Development School of Social and Political Science University of Edinburgh
Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
Research Interests
Electricity, Rubbish, Trash, Mapping, Visualisation, Solar, Energy, Waste, Power, Design, Repair, Photovoltaics, E-waste, Maintenance

PhD Title

Solar waste? An ethnography of repair in Kenya's photovoltaic economy

My research uses the case of solar to explore how Kenya's repair culture and economy is being altered by the introduction of new business models.  I suggest that although sites of repair differ in terms of appearance and process there are elements of the repairwork itself that are constant regardless of institutional context.  By focusing on fixing and tinkering we can also critically examine technical interventions and the use of technology in development.

Visit my blog, Solar and Other Stories, to read some updates, see some pictures and have your input on my research.

Supervisors: Dr Jamie Cross and Dr Jamie Furniss


The soldering iron in 'Our Lives With Electric Things'; a special collection for Cultural Anthropology (forthcoming)

Lights out for Dandora (Dark Mountain: Issue 8 - Autumn 2015)

Conference papers

'Items beyond repair': The disposal of solar products in Kenya (Putting Dirt In Its Place, University of Cambridge) - 3rd June 2017

Climbing the energy escalator: The off-grid solar future in Kenya (BIEA PhD Conference, British Institute in Eastern Africa) - 29th October 2016

Dubai's solar markets and what they mean for waste (Social Research on Off-Grid Solar, University College London) - 9th December 2015

Wasteways: Thoughts from a pilot survey in Kenya (4th Off-Grid Lighting Conference, Dubai World Trade Centre) - 28th October 2015

Solar waste: The user's perspective (Solar Waste Conference, Strathmore University) - 20th July 2015

Solar states: Renewable energy and shifting political topographies in sub-Saharan Africa (CAS Annual Conference, University of Edinburgh) - 28th May 2015

There is a light and it does go out: Following broken solar products in Kenya's photovoltaic economy. (Researching Africa Day, University of Oxford) - 7th March 2015

Other presentations

Breakdown and the social construction of solar waste (International Development PhD Presentation Day) - 7th April 2017

Designing (for) solar waste in Nairobi, Kenya (ACTS Lunchtime Seminar) - 10th October 2016

The First Mile: Solar waste at home in Bungoma, Kenya (SunnyMoney Lunch Talk) - 13th May 2016

Mafundi and me: Fixing solar things in Bomet, Kenya (BIEA PhD Forum) - 31st March 2016

Solar waste: Understanding broken products in Kenya's photovoltaic economy (International Development PhD Presentation Day) - April 2015


2017: Social Development (Undergraduate: 3rd and 4th year)


Finalist, St Gallen Wings of Excellence Award 2017

College Finalist, Three Minute Thesis Competition 2017