Thesis ID: CBB716984895

Materials, Labor, and Apprehension: Building for the Threat of Fire Across the Nineteenth-century British Atlantic (2020)


Rowen, Jonah (Author)
Martin, Reinhold (Advisor)

Columbia University
Martin, Reinhold
Publication date: 2020
Language: English

Publication Date: 2020
Physical Details: 494

With its destabilizing shifts away from mercantilism toward liberal economics, early nineteenth-century Britain generated an increasingly powerful class of technocrats, including architects and builders, in design and construction. This burgeoning professional group involved in architecture, planning, and building directed processes, products, and technologies of construction toward maintaining societal order. In doing so, they cemented their social hierarchical status. Following abolition of the slave trade in 1807 and emancipation from 1833-1838, architects and builders had to adapt their techniques of communication and labor management, and adjust their building practices to material and technological innovations. In contrast to heroic narratives of industrial progress and optimism that conventionally dominated histories of modern architecture, figures of apprehension, anxiety, and anticipation more appropriately encapsulate the consequential events of this period. Through empirical analyses of small-scale techniques of drawing and building, this dissertation renders the general transition from rigid, mercantilist arrangements aligned with economies of enslavement toward ideologies of free trade, increasingly widespread wage labor regimes, and liberalism more broadly, into legible, tangible forms. Using as heuristics architectural technologies for preempting, mitigating, and suppressing fires—planning, constructional assemblies, mechanisms, materials, regulations, financing, and legislation—I demonstrate that preventing undesirable occurrences governed a heterogeneous array of activities. These ranged from English architects' professionalization initiatives, to plans for evacuating people from and extinguishing fires in theaters, to labor management in West Indian military outposts, to fire insurance offices that spread their risk profiles by indemnifying Caribbean sugar plantations beginning in the late eighteenth century. Thus capital and uncertainty went hand in hand as elements in conveying wealth, as architects and others involved in building at once made risk both fungible and material.

Citation URI

This citation is part of the Isis database.

Similar Citations

Book Tapti Roy; (2018)
Print and Publishing in Colonial Bengal: The Journey of Bidyasundar (/p/isis/citation/CBB079096233/) unapi

Book William J. Glover; (2008)
Making Lahore Modern: Constructing and Imagining a Colonial City (/p/isis/citation/CBB108246394/) unapi

Article Burnard, Trevor; Follett, Richard; (2012)
Caribbean Slavery, British Anti-Slavery, and the Cultural Politics of Venereal Disease (/p/isis/citation/CBB001212674/) unapi

Book Sabine Clarke; Alan Lester; (2018)
Science at the End of Empire: Experts and the Development of the British Caribbean, 1940-62 (/p/isis/citation/CBB623700377/) unapi

Article Wayne Orchiston; R.C. Kapoor; (2023)
Indian Initiatives to Establish 'Western’ Astronomical Observatories Prior to Independence. 1: The Aristocrats (/p/isis/citation/CBB939617289/) unapi

Book Gilbert, Pamela K.; (2004)
Mapping the Victorian Social Body (/p/isis/citation/CBB000550086/) unapi

Article Aggarwal, Abhilasha; (2007)
British Higher Education in Mathematics for India: Two British Colleges, 1806--1861 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001023640/) unapi

Book Lahiri Choudhury, Deep Kanta; (2010)
Telegraphic Imperialism: Crisis and Panic in the Indian Empire, c.1830--1920 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001033497/) unapi

Chapter Spear, Jeffrey L.; (2010)
A South Kensington Gateway from Gwalior to Nowhere (/p/isis/citation/CBB001201874/) unapi

Book Kathleen Davidson; (2017)
Photography, Natural History and the Nineteenth-Century Museum: Exchanging Views of Empire (/p/isis/citation/CBB301363009/) unapi

Book Rohan Deb Roy; (2017)
Malarial Subjects: Empire, Medicine and Nonhumans in British India, 1820-1909 (/p/isis/citation/CBB894891343/) unapi

Book Thomas Simpson; (2021)
The Frontier in British India: Space, Science, and Power in the Nineteenth Century (/p/isis/citation/CBB821194883/) unapi

Book Harrison, Mark; (1999)
Climates and Constitutions: Health, Race, Environment and British Imperialism in India, 1600-1850 (/p/isis/citation/CBB000111160/) unapi

Book Hoffenberg, Peter H.; (2001)
Empire on Display: English, Indian, and Australian Exhibitions from the Crystal Palace to the Great War (/p/isis/citation/CBB000102081/) unapi

Book Barbara Hahn; (2020)
Technology in the Industrial Revolution (/p/isis/citation/CBB086776543/) unapi

Book Hashim Sarkis; Barrio, Roi Salgueiro; Gabriel Kozlowski; (2019)
The world as an architectural project (/p/isis/citation/CBB233843863/) unapi

Book Ogborn, Miles; (2007)
Indian Ink: Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company (/p/isis/citation/CBB000774180/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Aggarwal, Abhilasha
Bowler, Peter J.
Burnard, Trevor
Clarke, Sabine
Follett, Richard
Gilbert, Pamela K.
Archives of Natural History
British Journal for the History of Science
Historical Journal
Iranian Studies
Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Cambridge University Press
Manchester University Press
Oxford University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
State University of New York Press
Great Britain, colonies
Technology and society
Science and society
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
Bhāratacandra Rāẏa
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
Great Britain
Bengal (India)
Persia (Iran)
British East India Company
East India Company (English)
East India College
Bombay Natural History Society

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment