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Distributed for French National Museum Natural History

Le spécimen et le collecteur

savoirs naturalistes, pouvoirs et altérités (XVIIIe-XXe siècles)

This French-language book focuses on the act of collecting specimens, which is often the first stage of naturalists’ research. Chapter authors aim at unfolding collecting’s material, intellectual, and political underpinnings in order to grasp the knowledge issues that motivate its protagonists. Returning first to historical scenes of collection, the contributors shed light on the knowledge and expectations of informants and local intermediaries. They then unveil how, over more than two centuries, conflicts and unexpected coalitions of various interests and agents (such as explorers and informants, colonists and colonized people, merchants and scholars) played a role in the creation of naturalistic collections. In this way, specimens are shown to be more than mere objects reflecting an order of nature and independent from any knowledge and practices. On the contrary, they are elements of material culture and as such are both symbolic and constituents of social relations. In other words, they become objects of, and sometimes sources for, historical investigation.

Exploring the trajectories of collectors or specimens themselves, the politics by which museums channel specimens, and the otherness of places reflected by specimens, the authors of these chapters reveal the diversity of naturalistic and other types of knowledge embodied within these singular material accumulations.

509 pages | 6 1/2 x 9 1/2

Earth Sciences: General Earth Sciences, History of Earth Sciences

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