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Peter Lund Simmonds and the Political Ecology of Waste Utilization in Victorian Britain

From: Technology and Culture
Volume 52, Number 1, January 2011
pp. 21-44 | 10.1353/tech.2011.0003

Abstract

Abstract:

This article investigates the category of waste and its ideological function within Victorian political ecology. It seeks to draw out the connections between conceptions of nature, understandings of technology, and political economy in mid-Victorian capitalist ideology. It does so through a detailed reading of the corpus of one Victorian writer and commentator on technological subjects, Peter Lund Simmonds. Simmonds is interesting both as an everyday producer of knowledge about science and technology, and because he explicitly draws on the category of waste as a condition of possibility for technological progress and civilization. Ultimately he is indicative of the continuing str! ength of cornucopian ideas of nature among ideologues of capit! alist improvement in the mid-Victorian period, which suggests the limited metropolitan influence of any emerging conservationism or "green imperialism."