Cover: Confluence: The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône, from Harvard University PressCover: Confluence in HARDCOVER

Harvard Historical Studies 172


The Nature of Technology and the Remaking of the Rhône

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Product Details


$58.00 • £46.95 • €52.00

ISBN 9780674049659

Publication Date: 04/04/2011


392 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

5 halftones, 2 line illustrations, 9 maps

Harvard Historical Studies


Pritchard examines how the development of the Rhône River has been integral to the modernization of post-WW II France… Expertly linking ecology and technology to the political and cultural history of France, Pritchard illustrates how the Rhône is emblematic of the processes through which ‘technologies and strategies of environmental management materialized France as a nation in the territorial space declared within its borders.’ To this end, the importance of the river’s value in areas such as hydroelectricity, agriculture, nuclear energy, and industrialism went well beyond the economic realm. Instead, these uses were derived from discursive and material visions at the very core of national identity and the project of nation building.—A. C. Stanley, Choice

Original in its contribution, persuasive in its argument, and elegant in its design, this is a highly impressive work. Pritchard outlines the interconnections among technology, environment, and society in a systematic and coherent way. Her innovative treatment of the Rhone develops the ‘envirotechnical’ approach into a mature, sophisticated, and powerfully compelling analytical tool. A superb piece of scholarship and a remarkable accomplishment.—Michael D. Bess, author of The Light-Green Society: Ecology and Technological Modernity in France, 1960–2000

Pritchard has recovered the fascinating story of France’s massive, half-century mobilization of state-of-the-art technological and ecological know-how in transforming the nation’s largest river—the unruly Rhône—into a futuristic valley of economic productivity and recreational pleasure.—Leo Marx, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Pritchard has written an outstanding interdisciplinary study of the efforts to manage the Rhône River since 1945. In so doing, she provides the reader with a perceptive model of the ‘envirotech’ approach toward understanding complex phenomena involving technology and society.—Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University

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