Monstrous Spectres: Chimneys and Their Smoke in Industrial Britain

Bryonny Goodwin-Hawkins

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What does a chimney mean? As Britain industrialised, chimneys and smoke grew out of technological change and expanding manufacturing. Yet, as I demonstrate here, the substances of brick and particulates had – and have – more than material meaning. This article offers a brief ethnography of industrial chimneys and their smoke in Britain, from the nineteenth century to the smokeless, postindustrial present. Taking as my concern how chimneys and smoke have been ‘written’ into socio-spatial symbolism, I show their polarisation between triumphant spectacle and savage monstrosity. I then reflect on their current, spectral, presence
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages9
JournalAnthropological Forum
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jan 2018


  • industrialism
  • Britain
  • space
  • anthropology and literature


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