Ruth Morgan (Melbourne / München): “The Engineer is a Ruler of Men”: Masculinity and the exchange of engineering expertise between British India and the Australian colonies

Datum: 20.07.2017
Ort: Berlin

Vortrag von Dr. Ruth Morgan (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, München / Monash University, Australia)
Zeit: 18.00 (c.t.) - 20.00 Uhr

In his report on his 1890-91 tour of the sub-continent, Victorian parliamentarian Alfred Deakin (1856-1919) described the imperial role of the engineer as ‘a ruler of men’. Deakin’s observation underlines the political, social and cultural significance of the engineer and engineering works in colonial contexts, for he possessed the expertise to create order from disorder. As an instrument of imperial rule, therefore, the engineer both remade waterscapes and transformed social relations. How gender shaped and influenced these engineering exchanges has been little studied, and offers fresh perspectives into the ways in which the nexus of engineering, technology and masculinity was understood and articulated in colonial contexts. This paper will study contemporary accounts of these engineering encounters to explore the roles of masculinity and whiteness in these exchanges, and how these influenced the reception of engineers and the application of their schemes in British India and the Australian colonies.

Ruth Morgan is an environmental historian. Her research interests lie in the environmental exchanges that shaped colonial climate and hydrological knowledge in British India, the Australian colonies and the Cape Colony. Her award-winning first book, Running Out? Water in Western Australia (2015), explored the vulnerability of southwestern Australia to drought and anthropogenic climate change since the nineteenth century. She has published widely on the environmental history of water management in Australia, the British Empire and the American West, including the journals Osiris, the Journal of Urban History, Radical History Review, and Australian Historical Studies. She is a Carl Friedrich von Siemens Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2017 of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, based at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich in 2017 as and will return to the National Centre for Australian Studies, Monash University, Australia in 2018 as a Senior Research Fellow.

Ein Vortrag im Berlin-Brandenburger Colloquium für Umweltgeschichte Sommersemster 2017 der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in Kooperation mit dem Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam (ZZF).


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Kontakt und Anmeldung

Konzeption und Organisation des Berlin-Brandenburger Colloquiums für Umweltgeschichte (Sommersemester 2017):
Dr. Jan-Henrik Meyer (University of Kopenhagen/ZZF Potsdam)
Dr. Astrid M. Kirchhof (HU Berlin)

Eintritt frei| keine Anmeldung erforderlich

Dr. Jan-Henrik Meyer
derzeit Visiting Fellow am Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung Potsdam
Am Neuen Markt 1
14467 Potsdam
Email: j.h.meyer [at]

Dr. Astrid M. Kirchhof
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Email: astrid.m.kirchhof [at]