Peter Lund Simmonds and the Political Ecology of Waste Utilization in Victorian Britain
Technology and Culture
The Johns Hopkins University Press
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 strength of cornucopian ideas of nature among ideologues of capitalist improvement in the mid-Victorian period, which suggests the limited metropolitan influence of any emerging conservationism or "green imperialism."
Copyright © 2011 by the Society for the History of Technology. This article first appeared in Technology and Culture, 52:1 (2011) 21-44. Posted with permission by The Johns Hopkins University Press.