Thesis ID: CBB716984895

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

unapi

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.

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Authors & Contributors
Aggarwal, Abhilasha
Bowler, Peter J.
Burnard, Trevor
Clarke, Sabine
Follett, Richard
Gilbert, Pamela K.
Journals
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
Publishers
Cambridge University Press
Manchester University Press
Oxford University Press
Palgrave Macmillan
Routledge
State University of New York Press
Concepts
Great Britain, colonies
Colonialism
Technology and society
Science and society
Imperialism
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
People
Bhāratacandra Rāẏa
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
20th century, early
20th century, late
Places
Great Britain
India
Caribbean
Australia
Bengal (India)
Persia (Iran)
Institutions
British East India Company
East India Company (English)
East India College
Bombay Natural History Society
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