Circulating salts: chemical governance and the bifurcation of "nature" and "society"

Joppe van Driel, Lissa L. Roberts

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5 Citations (Scopus)


This essay traces the transnational landscape of practices involving the extraction, refining, reuse, and valuation of salts, centered in the Netherlands in the period 1750–1850. It examines how industry, agriculture, and chemistry developed together with commercial and governance relations through these practices. While chemical governance first took up socio-material environments and nonhumans as integrated components in fostering welfare, in time it helped fragment the landscape of salt-related practices into distinct productive and administrative realms, implicating a bifurcation between “nature” and “society.” Thereby, the essay contributes to our understanding of how and when humans came to define their own actions as standing apart from an external “nature”—relevant for broader discussions of environmental history and as a compelling analytical perspective from which to view current discussions of the Anthropocene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)233-263
JournalEighteenth-century studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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