Impossible Engineering: Technology and Territoriality on the Canal du MIDI by Chandra Mukerji (Paperback, 2015)
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- DescriptionThe Canal du Midi, which threads through southwestern France and links the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, was an astonishing feat of seventeenth-century engineering--in fact, it was technically impossible according to the standards of its day. Impossible Engineering takes an insightful and entertaining look at the mystery of its success as well as the canal's surprising political significance. The waterway was a marvel that connected modern state power to human control of nature just as surely as it linked the ocean to the sea. The Canal du Midi is typically characterized as the achievement of Pierre-Paul Riquet, a tax farmer and entrepreneur for the canal. Yet Chandra Mukerji argues that it was a product of collective intelligence, depending on peasant women and artisans--unrecognized heirs to Roman traditions of engineering--who came to labor on the waterway in collaboration with military and academic supervisors. Ironically, while Louis XIV and his treasury minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert used propaganda to present France as a new Rome, the Canal du Midi was being constructed with unrecognized classical methods. Still, the result was politically potent. As Mukerji shows, the project took land and power from local bles, using water itself as a silent agent of the state to disrupt traditions of local life that had served regional elites. Impossible Engineering opens a surprising window into the world of seventeenth-century France and illuminates a singular work of engineering undertaken to empower the state through technical conquest of nature.
- Author BiographyChandra Mukerji is professor of communication and science studies at the University of California, San Diego. She is the author of Territorial Ambitions and the Gardens of Versailles, A Fragile Power: Scientists and the State (Princeton), and From Graven Images: Patterns of Modern Materialism.
- PrizesCommended for American Sociological Association: Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award 2010. Joint winner for American Sociological Association: Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award 2012.
- Author(s)Chandra Mukerji
- PublisherPrinceton University Press
- Date of Publication23/06/2015
- SubjectTechnology: General & Reference
- Series TitlePrinceton Studies in Cultural Sociology
- Place of PublicationNew Jersey
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintPrinceton University Press
- Content Noteblack & white illustrations
- Weight485 g
- Width155 mm
- Height235 mm
- Spine19 mm
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