CIRR-HTIR colloquium - MAARTEN MEIJER: "Governing soil’s end Pneumatic sewage, death atlases, and chemical laboratories in 19th century Netherlands"
|When:||Th 23-09-2021 15:00 - 17:00|
Research colloquium of the chair group History and Theory of International Relations.
Governing soil’s end Pneumatic sewage, death atlases, and chemical laboratories in 19th century Netherlands
In 1866, Charles Liernur, an engineer and US civil war veteran, presented a curious sewage design system to city councils in the Netherlands. This system worked not on the basis of water circulation, but used air pressure to rid cities of the excrements produced by urban populations. This article interrogates the epistemological conditions of Liernur’s pneumatic sewage system in order to shed light on the changing relation between soils and Dutch society in the 19th century. The first section discusses the relation between hygienism, soil and sewage. The second section unearths how Liernur’s design related to the agricultural chemistry of Justus Liebig. Through the epistemologies and the mediating technologies that are operationalized by hygienists and chemists soils are made governable. The final section of this article discusses the struggle to commercialise the urban waste collected by Liernur’s system, highlighting the difference between governable and governed soils.