Global Natural History Around 1800

Workshop: Global Natural History around 1800: Collections, Media, Actors

Lichtenberg-Kolleg, Historic Observatory, 7-9 December 2017

Limited spaces are available upon prior registration.

Please contact Dominik Hünniger until 29th November 2017.

The later decades of the 18th century became an important era for the development of different fields of natural history and related fields of ethnology and archaeology as academic subjects due to the advancement of Linnaean systematics in botany and zoology. These caused paradigmatic changes in the perception, systematization and classification of the natural world. Collections and the practices of collecting played a major role in this process and influenced the global exchange of ideas, knowledge, specimens and personnel. Material as well as intellectual exchange happened in diverse institutions that also included collections, media, the university classroom and the natural world itself. At the same time European exploration and colonialism influenced and was influenced by these developments too.


Thursday, 7th December


13:45 – 14:00                          Dominik Hünniger, Lichtenberg-Kolleg Göttingen

Welcome and Introduction

 Session 1: Mapping and Prospecting

Chair: Joanna Wharton, Lichtenberg-Kolleg Göttingen


14:00 – 14:45                          Helen Cowie, University of York: Silk of the Andes: studying, exploiting and conserving the Peruvian vicuña


14:45– 15:15                           coffee/tea break


15:15 – 16:00                          Rachel Koroloff, Lichtenberg-Kolleg Göttingen: Local natures, global gardens: Kamchatka, Astrakhan’, St. Petersburg


16:30 – 18:00                          Visit to the Goettingen Herbarium     

18:15 – 19:00 Lissa Roberts, Twente: Public Keynote: The infrastructures of natural history, Auditorium Hörsaal, Weender Str. 2

This lecture turns to the history of natural history in and around Japan during the second half of the eighteenth century, in order to examine what happens when we think about natural history through the lens of infrastructure. By affording the passage of humans and their goods, physical and knowledge infrastructures made the accumulation, exchange and translation of naturalists, as well as the objects and products of their explorations, possible. Along the way, the lecture considers the historical fragility of infrastructures and their components, whether we’re talking about a ship or a taxonomic system, which required great efforts to maintain, improve and replace them. So too is attention given to the various uses to which the same infrastructures might be put as well as the various meanings that might be attributed to them. Finally, while addressing the roles played by infrastructures in constructing the investigation and understanding of nature, it also focuses on how elements of nature were recruited as components of infrastructure – sometimes with far-reaching environmental and epistemological consequences.

Friday, 8th December

Session 2: Surveying and Perceiving
Chair: Simona Boscani Leoni, Bern

09:30 – 10:15                          Ousmane Seydi, University of Basel: Michel Adanson in Senegal (1749-1753). Survey of the daily activities of a naturalist in an African environment


10:15 – 11:00                          Minakshi Menon, MPI History of Science Berlin: Transferrable Surveys: Natural History from the Hebrides to South India


11:00 – 11:30                           coffee/tea break


11:30 – 12:15                          Sahar Bazazz, College of the Holy Cross: P.E. Botta and the Politics of French Natural History in Early 19th Century Yemen


12:15 – 13:00                          Jon Mathieu, University of Luzern: Divergent perception: deserts and mountains in transition to modernity, seen through Alexander von Humboldt’s ‘Views of Nature’


13:00 – 14:00                           lunch

Session 3: Inventing difference

Chair: tba


14:00 – 14:45                          Bruce Buchan, Griffith University: Scottish medical ethnography: colonial travel and the natural history of race, c. 1770-1805


14:45 – 15:30                          Linda Andersson Burnett, Linnaeus University: Collecting, displaying and debating human difference: racial debates in Edinburgh around 1800


15:30 – 16:00                           coffee/tea break


16:00 – 16:45                          Surekha Davies, Western Connecticut State University: Collecting artefacts, inventing Europe, and inventing the indigenous c.1800


17:15 – 18:30                          Visit to the Blumenbach Skull Collection


19:00                                           dinner


Saturday, 9th December


Session 4: Networks and Methodologies

Chair: Ivan Gaskell, Bard Graduate Center


09:30 – 10:15                          Mungo Campbell, The Hunterian Glasgow: ‘… so obviously useful’: cultural and scientific networks in late Enlightenment Scotland and the publication of Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours, 1814-1821


10:15 – 10.45                           coffee/tea break


10:45 – 12:15                          Anna Toledano, Mackenzie Cooley, Duygu Yıldırım, University of Stanford: Mapping objects, mapping science: new methods of early modern natural history


12:15 – 13:00                          Dominik Hünniger, Lichtenberg-Kolleg Göttingen: A tale of many species. A relational approach to the global history of entomology, ca. 1760-1815


13:00 – 14:00                           lunch


14:00 – 14:45                          Philip Jones, South Australian Museum: The Australian Aboriginal ‘corroboree’ as a theatre of engagement, 1780s – 1820s


14:45 – 15:15                          Pratik Chakrabarti, University of Manchester

Concluding comments           


Sunday, 10th December, 10.00 to 16.00

Optional individual collection visits: Art Collection, Collection of Musical Instruments, Cast Collection of Antique Sculptures, Ethnographic Collection, Museum of Zoology, Museum of Geoscience

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