Impossible Engineering: Technology and Territoriality on the Canal du Midi

Impossible Engineering: Technology and Territoriality on the Canal du Midi

by Chandra Mukerji
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691140324

ISBN-13: 9780691140322

Pub. Date: 07/06/2009

Publisher: Princeton University Press

"Impossible Engineering is a masterful work. Mukerji gives us a convincing, original explanation of the baffling technological feat of the construction of the Canal du Midi. She elegantly combines science and technology studies, cultural history, cognitive science, and sociology to show us how cultural memory and collective intelligence contributed to

Overview

"Impossible Engineering is a masterful work. Mukerji gives us a convincing, original explanation of the baffling technological feat of the construction of the Canal du Midi. She elegantly combines science and technology studies, cultural history, cognitive science, and sociology to show us how cultural memory and collective intelligence contributed to marvels of engineering that no single group of experts could have accomplished. A must-read."—Karin Knorr Cetina, University of Chicago

"Mukerji brings phenomenal scope and originality to the story of the Canal du Midi. Demonstrating how a material object can be the result of collective social intelligence, she provides a model for how to write a new kind of history of science and technology. She brings together material and intellectual history and connects, in an exemplary way, the history of material objects to the development of new patterns of thought and social organization."—Pamela H. Smith, Columbia University

"Impossible Engineering offers a fascinating account of the planning, construction, and interpretation of a major public-works project in seventeenth-century France. Mukerji stresses the participation of many people who have often have been written out of this story, especially the peasant workforce, which included a significant contingent of women. She also raises large general issues about the modes and limitations of human interaction with the natural world. I read this book with great pleasure."—Harriet Ritvo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Drawing on a vast array of original archival data, Impossible Engineering offers an elegant and original analysis of a feat of engineering, the construction of the Canal du Midi. Mukerji weaves various strands of the story with impressive dexterity to produce an account that is undoubtedly that of a scholar at the top of her game. This is a fascinating and theoretically significant study."—Michle Lamont, Harvard University

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691140322
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/06/2009
Series:
Princeton Studies in Cultural Sociology Series
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Illustrations ix
Acknowledgments xiii
Abbreviations xvii
Introduction xix
Chapter 1: Impossible Engineering 1
Chapter 2: Territorial Politics 15
Chapter 3: Epistemic Credibility 36
Chapter 4: New Rome Confronts Old Gaul 60
Chapter 5: Shifting Sands 91
Chapter 6: The New Romans 117
Chapter 7: Thinking Like a King 154
Chapter 8: Monumental Achievement 176
Chapter 9: Powers of Impersonal Rule 203
Notes 229
Bibliography 277
Index 293

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