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Home » News » Paul Niell Publishes Co-Edited Volume Architecture & Extraction in the Atlantic World, 1500-1850

Paul Niell Publishes Co-Edited Volume Architecture & Extraction in the Atlantic World, 1500-1850

Published December 29, 2023

In December, Associate Professor Paul Niell published Architecture and Extraction in the Atlantic World, 1500-1850 (Routledge, 2023), a volume he co-edited with architectural historian Luis Gordo-Pelaez of California State University, Fresno. This collection consists of fourteen chapters on diverse aspects of the extraction economies that arose in the early modern Atlantic, from the mining of iron to the trafficking in ice and seal oil. The book critically considers the complex interrelationships that have emerged between architecture and extraction over the centuries, including the role of the built environment in mining, plantation agriculture, and circulation via infrastructure and a vast array of physical networks. The story of architecture and extraction is also the story of Indigenous and African descendant peoples who labored and participated in these economies.

Whereas once architectural historians considered Samuel Blodget’s First Bank of the United States in Philadelphia from 1795 to be primarily a matter of style, the architect, and function as a US monetary institution, it may now be seen in the transnational light of institutional networks all with vested interests in transoceanic plantation enterprises. The nineteenth-century frozen water trade connected sites of ice extraction in the eastern United States to ports in the Caribbean and southeast Asia. The warehouses of the West India Docks in late eighteenth-century London conveyed order through a visually unified facade, as the spatial layout of these buildings fostered flexibility and enabled investors to maximize circulation and thereby increase the volume of imports driven by demand for such labor-intensive commodities as sugar from West Indian plantations. These and many other topics compose a book that looks across imperial boundaries and focuses the reader on sites in West Africa, the Andes, Europe, Asia, the Caribbean, and the early United States