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

Publication in the September Issue of Isis

Publication in the September Issue of Isis

Raf De Bont published the article, "Moving across the Zoo–Field Border: Heini Hediger in Congo," in the September 2022 issue of Isis: An International Review Devoted to the History of Science and its Cultural Influences. The article explores "why the Basel zoo...

Research and Conference Presentation in Paris

Research and Conference Presentation in Paris

Vanessa Bateman was in Paris in January where she conducted research at Bibliothèque centrale du Jardin des Plantes. This included reading through old issues of sporting and nature periodicals from the early 20th century, and finding visual evidence of the link...

Research in Michigan, Toronto, and Hawaii

Research in Michigan, Toronto, and Hawaii

During November-December 2022 Vincent Bijman spent several weeks in the US and Canada, where he was researching the invasive Sea Lamprey and the Mongoose. He traveled to Washington, D.C., Ann Arbor, Michigan, Toronto, Ontario, and Hawaii. Archives that he visited...

Presentation at Animal History Group Conference 2022

Presentation at Animal History Group Conference 2022

In July 2022, Monica Vasile presented the paper "Thinking with the wild ass: teaching the Przewalski’s horse to move in the Gobi Desert, a contemporary history of conservation science" at the Animal History Group Summer Conference. She shows how humans taught the...

New publication on European Bison Reintroduction

New publication on European Bison Reintroduction

Monica Vasile discusses the problematic, complicated, and ambivalent ‘success story’ of the reintroduction of European bison in Romania and Poland in her Open Access article in the journal Environment and History. “From Reintroduction to Rewilding: Autonomy, Agency...

Fieldwork on the Przewalski’s Horse in Mongolia

Fieldwork on the Przewalski’s Horse in Mongolia

In June 2022, Monica Vasile did fieldwork on the Przewalski's horse (takhi in Mongolian) reintroduction. She visited the Gobi B protected area, a nature reserve in Gobi desert (situated in the southwestern part of Mongolia at the border with China), where horses have...