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Dolan, D
The Engineer as Landscaper and Cultural Warrior
Australian Journal of Multi-disciplinary Engineering
Description of Work
Paper presented at the Australasian Engineering Heritage Conference (3rd: 2009 : Dunedin)
vol. 8, no. 1, Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2010, pp. 1-9

In 1910, American philosopher William James called on governments of all nations to eschew fighting each other, and instead jointly pursue 'the moral equivalent of war' - a war against nature. Believing the world to be fundamentally hostile to the human struggle for survival, James was inspired by the projects of the great 19th century engineers. He saw their work as a grand cultural endeavour, transcending merely building infrastructure to solve local practical problems. Pipelines, railways, roads, tunnels, bridges and canals tie formerly separate places and people together, creating new political, economic and population zones. The engineers of the Victorian and Edwardian era literally reshaped the landscape and redrew the maps, changing forever the ways we experience, conceptualise and understand the environment. In the context of the British Empire, impressive engineering works were articulated to enhance the credibility of the imperial enterprise. The visual impact on the physical landscape was controversial, but the new spatial and cultural reality they created is reflected in landscape art and popular national imagery. The fame and drama that surrounded C. Y. O'Connor in Australia and New Zealand, and his international peers, made them significant cultural figures in their own right, as influential as literary or visual artists in creating cultural imagery and sense of place.