A History of Science, Media and Policy in the Twentieth Century
In the twentieth century, processes of globalization and increasing pressure on uncultivated areas have transformed humans’ relations with undomesticated non-human animals. Because human and animal territorialities intersected in novel ways, life scientists and policymakers were increasingly spurred to study and manage animal mobility across the globe. Simultaneously, media representations of animals circulated at an unparalleled scale.
The ‘Moving Animals’ project – sponsored by an NWO Vici grant – will study changing human-nature relations by focusing on human involvement with ‘wild’ animals that move (or are being moved) over great distances. More in particular, it will analyze how the long-distance movement of these animals has been studied, represented, managed and policed throughout twentieth century. Four main categories of animal mobility take center stage: (1) biological invasions, (2) reintroductions of locally extinct species, (3) seasonal migrations and (4) the trading of zoo animals. By probing how these various forms of animal movement have been made knowable, visible and controllable, the project will cast a light on the changing place and space of animals in today’s globalizing world.
Raf de Bont and Simone Schleper contributed two essays (on hamsters and storks) to the recent issue of Wonderkamer, the popular magazine of Gewina, the Belgian-Dutch Society for the History of Science and Univeristies.
Since the 1970s, an iconic case of infrastructure development continues to cause controversies amongst wildlife experts about mammals’ capacity to learn and about their ecological stakes in modified areas: the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS). Simone Schleper published an article about the types of agency migratory caribou were assigned in this debate.
In November 2021, Monica did fieldwork and archival research at Prague Zoo. Prague Zoo has been active in breeding the Przewalski’s horses from the 1930s, and did the first zoo driven reintroduction of Przewalski’s horses in Mongolia, hiring army aircrafts.
In May 2021, Raf De Bont’s Nature’s Diplomats appeared with the University of Pittsburgh Press.
On September 24, 2021, Raf de Bont talked to Koen Fillet, host of the Radio 1 podcast series Het Geheugen van de Mug.
On September 19th, 2021, Willem Schoonen interviewed Raf de Bont for the newspaper Trouw.
On 7 September, Monica Vasile gave a presenation for the BASN (British Animal Studies Network) Autumn Meeting on ‘LOSS’, called “History of a Clone: Losing and Reviving the Przewalski’s Horse.”
Incest is more common than one would expect amongst zoo-bred animals, or at least it was. Especially with endangered species, inbreeding was a common practice up until the 1970s, despite awareness of its risks and consequences.
How does one become certain that a species is no more? How does one document extinction? Monica Vasile tackles these questions in a blogpost for Mosa Historia. In particular, she discusses how scientists tried to find out whether there were still surviving free-living...
The wild hamsters of the Dutch province of Limburg are currently cherished as a cute-yet-threatened indigenous species and a marker of local identity. This has not always been the case however. In a blogpost for Mosa Historia, Raf De Bont discusses how the Dutch...