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.
In September 2022, the Moving Animals team presented their work at the 10th ESHS Conference (European Society for the History of Science) in Brussels. The panel, Genes, Ghosts, and Icons: Networks of (Amateur) Scientists in the Conservation, Collection, and...
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...
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...
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...
In July, the Moving Animals members organized three panels at the the ESEH conference 2022, presenting project work on 20th century captive breeding of lemurs, Rhuddy duck erradication projects, Swiss zoo design, and behavioral experiments with wild Arctic ungulates.
In May and June 2022, Monica Vasile did fieldwork on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, researching the story of recovering the Vancouver Island marmot from near extinction.
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.
In April 2022, Monica presented in the virtual conference of the American Society for Environmental History a paper entitled Lost Wild Behaviors: a history of averting the extinction of the Przewalski’s horse, as part of the panel Confronting Extinctions.
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.