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Black Water. Technology, Labour and Colonialism in the Making of Liberal Climates

Eoin Phillips 
(Ramon Llull University) 
Viernes 27 de noviembre de 2020, 12 horas

Coordina Oliver Hochadel (IMF-CSIC)
Actividad organizada por el Grupo de Historia de la Ciencia,
Institución Milá y Fontanals de Investigación en Humanidades (CSIC, Barcelona) 
This paper aims to explore the changing role and meaning of canals, rivers and oceanic routes that, I will claim, were central to industrialisation and the transformation of knowledge-relations in Britain from the late eighteenth century. This paper takes its cue from recent work by scholars (eg, Andreas Malm, et al) who have emphasised the need to take seriously the social and disciplinary motivations in the transition to the carbon economy.  It is my concern that histories of this transition in Britain have not taken as seriously as they might the importance placed at the time on inland and oceanic navigation in defining attitudes towards the improvement of trade and manufacture, population control and strategies to discipline skilled and unskilled workforces. Through a case study on the work and ambitions of canal and dockyard reformers, I will try to show the ways in which dramatic material transformations around controlling water and flow not only served the emerging carbon system, but were vital resources in themselves in  supporting ambitious models of energy, work and history in the attempt to transform science, governance and territorial relations in this age of revolution and empire.
Eoin Phillips was trained in economic history and the history of science and technology at the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge respectively. He is currently Associate Professor in Economic History at Ramon Llull University, Barcelona. After completing his PhD and a postdoc at the University of Cambridge on the transformation of the marine clock and watchmaking trade, he taught history at Ruskin College, Oxford, before moving on to explore the history of technology, republicanism and political arithmetic as a visiting researcher at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
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