Moving Animals

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.

Latest News

Blog post for NiCHE: “Incest at the Zoo”

Blog post for NiCHE: “Incest at the Zoo”

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.

Extinct in the Wild?

Extinct in the Wild?

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...

Harmful Hamsters

Harmful Hamsters

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...

Before Hamsters Became Cute

Before Hamsters Became Cute

On 15 December, Raf de Bont published a blog post for Mosa Historia on changing perceptions of European hamsters from harmful to cute, a shift which only occured in the 1960s and 1970s.

Animal Borderlands

Animal Borderlands

In September-October 2020, The British Animal Studies Network devoted its autumn meeting to 'Animal Borderlands'. Moving Animals' project leader Raf De Bont gave one of the plenary lectures. A full report of the BASN autumn meeting can be found...

Caribous on Treadmills, and Alaskan oil

Caribous on Treadmills, and Alaskan oil

What do caribous on treadmills have to do with Alaskan oil? In a blog post for Mosa Historia Simone Schleper explores the relationship between moving animals such as caribous, and the construction of oil pipelines in Alaska.

Women and Wildebeests

Women and Wildebeests

Studying migratory wildebeests in the African savanna often involved a collaborative effort by research couples. In January, Simone Schleper wrote a short blog post on the gender dynamics of ecological fieldwork and its historiography.

Moving Animals in NRC

Moving Animals in NRC

Moving Animals made it into the NRC. We talked about globalization, conceptions of wildness, zoological gardens and… hamsters.

Wildlife as Protein

Wildlife as Protein

In the 1960s, western conservationists increasingly started to frame wildlife as a promising source of protein for African populations. As such, they hoped to rethink the position of wild animals in the landscapes of Sub-Saharan Africa.