Daniel Schneider

Daniel Schneider is Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and an ecologist for the Illinois Natural History Survey at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. His work on the history of ecology has been awarded the Price/Webster Prize by the History of Science Society.

  • Hybrid Nature

    Hybrid Nature

    Sewage Treatment and the Contradictions of the Industrial Ecosystem

    Daniel Schneider

    A history of of the industrial ecosystem that focuses on the biological sewage treatment plant as an early example.

    Biological sewage treatment, like electricity, power generation, telephones, and mass transit, has been a key technology and a major part of the urban infrastructure since the late nineteenth century. But sewage treatment plants are not only a ubiquitous component of the modern city, they are also ecosystems—a hybrid variety that incorporates elements of both nature and industry and embodies multiple contradictions. In Hybrid Nature, Daniel Schneider offers an environmental history of the biological sewage treatment plant in the United States and England, viewing it as an early and influential example of an industrial ecosystem.

    The sewage treatment plant relies on microorganisms and other plants and animals but differs from a natural ecosystem in the extent of human intervention in its creation and management. Schneider explores the relationship between society and nature in the industrial ecosystem and the contradictions that define it: the naturalization of industry versus the industrialization of nature; the public interest versus private (patented) technology; engineers versus bacterial and human labor; and purification versus profits in the marketing of sewage fertilizer. Schneider also describes biotechnology's direct connections to the history of sewage treatment, and how genetic engineering is extending the reaches of the industrial ecosystem to such “natural” ecosystems as oceans, rivers, and forests. In a conclusion that shows how industrial ecosystems continue to evolve, Schneider discusses John Todd's Living Machine, a natural purification method of sewage treatment, as the embodiment of the contradictions of the industrial ecosystem.

    • Hardcover $11.75 £9.95
    • Paperback $19.75 £14.99

Contributor

  • Histories of the Dustheap

    Histories of the Dustheap

    Waste, Material Cultures, Social Justice

    Stephanie Foote and Elizabeth Mazzolini

    An examination of how garbage reveals the relationships between the global and the local, the economic and the ecological, and the historical and the contemporary.

    Garbage, considered both materially and culturally, elicits mixed responses. Our responsibility toward the objects we love and then discard is entangled with our responsibility toward the systems that make those objects. Histories of the Dustheap uses garbage, waste, and refuse to investigate the relationships between various systems—the local and the global, the economic and the ecological, the historical and the contemporary—and shows how this most democratic reality produces identities, social relations, and policies.

    The contributors first consider garbage in subjective terms, examining “toxic autobiography” by residents of Love Canal, the intersection of public health and women's rights, and enviroblogging. They explore the importance of place, with studies of post-Katrina soil contamination in New Orleans, e-waste disposal in Bloomington, Indiana, and garbage on Mount Everest. And finally, they look at cultural contradictions as objects hover between waste and desirability, examining Milwaukee's efforts to sell its sludge as fertilizer, the plastics industry's attempt to wrap plastic bottles and bags in the mantle of freedom of choice, and the idea of obsolescence in the animated film The Brave Little Toaster.

    Histories of the Dustheap offers a range of perspectives on a variety of incarnations of garbage, inviting the reader to consider garbage in a way that goes beyond the common “buy green” discourse that empowers individuals while limiting environmental activism to consumerist practices.

    • Hardcover $11.75 £9.99
    • Paperback $9.75 £7.99