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Rust and Revolution: Understanding Social Technologies in Enlightenment Europe through metaphorology


"This project asks how, if we take rust with its connotations of change and corruption as a starting point, we can return to three very different clusters of phenomena, each of which has been called a Revolution - the Chemical, the French and the Industrial - to understand how texts implicated in each interact. Not only do such texts exchange metaphors which structure thought and concept; they also contribute to heated debates on the nature and substance of social groups, their separation from or grounding in the natural world, and the technologies (social and material) necessary for their continued integrity. Challenging the idea that these social and material technologies can be treated distinct from one another, this project contends that any attempt to understand the implications of each manifestation of rust must include both rust's long metaphorical heritage (which stretches back through the Medieval and Classical worlds), and the contemporary innovations in the understanding of material rust, which were so important to the Chemical Revolution. Drawing on Bruno Latour's claim that ""We Have Never Been Modern"" and engaging with the vibrant critical territory of New Materialisms and the nonhuman turn, I will trace the 'translations' of rust between the domains of political history, the history of science and technology, philosophy and poetics. The central question of the project is: how does rust link these domains, and what can understanding them as linked by rust reveal about such vast concepts as history, society, nature and knowledge, as they took on their modern form, through the clash of revolutionary and counterrevolutionary ideologies during the Enlightenment?"


Net EU contribution
€ 173 847,36
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Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Non-EU contribution
No data