HSS 2000 Abstracts
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Despite the fact that the calendric and mathematical elements of ancient Maya knowledge were the first-understood of their intellectual achievements and that the bulk of this material was deciphered by the early decades of this century, the extent of an "History of Mayan Astronomy" remains one paragraph in Floyd Lounsbury's 1978 Dictionary of Scientific Biography entry. This is particularly unfortunate for the history of science as a discipline since Maya culture allows for serious consideration of the question of 'science' in a 'non-Western' culture. This paper constitutes a first attempt at precisely this type of investigation by examining a development in Mayan astronomy in which mathematical innovation complemented political necessity. That is, Kan Balam II, heir to the throne of Palenque during the seventh century A.D., faced a legitimation crisis with the recent demise of two allies, Tikal and Teotihuacan. To ensure a trouble-free accession he developed an analogy between his immediate family and the mythic first family of Creation. This analogy he presented in monumental architecture, palatial art, and the astrology of his court. The latter was possible because earlier that century, one of his father's court astrologers had discovered how to compute the positions of the planets in their arithmetic cycles for periods of thousands of years. This astrologer then was able to correlate the events of the mythic past into the Long Count calendar relative to contemporary times. Such a feat enabled Kan Balam to tie his own ceremonies numerologically to those of the gods. Simultaneously, this feat opens up for us a window into the Maya conceptualization of time and the celestial bodies that cannot be adequately captured by 'Western'-derived disciplinary categories. We are thus forced, I argue, to reconsider our understandings of "Other" cultures as well as that of pre-modern European culture.
This paper invokes the "Pascal-Newton" forgeries to explore the transformation of the historical discipline into a "science" in France in the late nineteenth century, and the role of the history of science in this transformation. As such, the paper is a contribution to the history of proof and evidence in diverse disciplines and cultural contexts. In particular, it examines the relationship between the concurrent marketplace craze for "authentic documents" and the rise of professional history-writing based on a critical analysis of texts. The forgeries themselves were a set of 30,000 letters purchased by the prominent French mathematician (and amateur historian of science), Michel Chasles. These letters included a correspondence between Blaise Pascal and an eleven-year-old school-boy named Isaac Newton, proving that Newton had stolen from Pascal his demonstration of the law of universal gravitation. Proved this, at least, to the satisfaction of several members of the French academy, who invoked it as further proof of how French priority/originality had been once again neglected. Other academicians, however, and many more savants outside its walls, including of course many in England, were more dubious. The ensuing polemic, which lasted for three long years (1868-1870), reveals the difficulties faced by scientists (and historians of science) when they tried to bring the methods of scientific verification to bear on the art of verisimilitude by which we represent the past. To bring these difficulties home to contemporary historians, this conference paper will take the form of a pseudo-letter from the hand of the guilty forger (Vrain-Lucas) in which he defends his compositions as merely a "dramatization" of historical events based on extracts from original documents, a dramatization which he hoped would capture both the inner-workings of a remote historical period and the attention of an otherwise-preoccupied public (as well as earn him a small fortune). As a particular kind of dramatization, this conference paper is meant to challenge our own concepts of authorship and originality in history, as well as in science.
Few people spoke of efficiency at the turn of the twentieth century, in the early days of American progressivism. The term remained technical, used by physicists and engineers to discuss particular aspects of thermodynamics. By the time the progressive era waned, however, efficiency had become one of America's most recognizable slogans. Scholars have found progressive interest in efficiency superficial and portray it as an empty vessel ready and willing to carry all sorts of contextual baggage. Historians have even called some popularizers of efficiency charlatans, arguing that they misappropriated and attenuated what had been a limited and useful concept. Even popularizers, however, used the standardized and formal measurement of efficiency, the percentage, a standard mathematically precise and yet devoid of content. This measurement, the efficiency percentage, retained the technical features of the concept. This paper discusses the role of the efficiency percentage in two different and widely circulating journals of the early twentieth century: Engineering Magazine and The Independent. It argues that efficiency experts adopted the technical standardized measurement of efficiency and developed a precise and parallel social equivalent, which was neither a metaphor nor simply a rhetorical device. It takes exception to the prevalent emphasis on efficiency as a cultural artifact more expressive of the progressive social ethos than of its own scientific and technological heritage.
This paper explores the nexus between Charles Darwin's concept of unconscious selection and what I call his "distribution thinking," a subset of Darwin's population thinking as described by Ernst Mayr. Darwin never fully articulated the linkage between these two concepts, yet he increasingly connected them in his correspondence, in revised editions of the Origin of Species, and in The Descent of Man. He did this, I argue, in an effort to compensate, by analogy, for his imperfect grasp of the normal distribution of any given variation existing at a particular point in time. Although Darwin built his natural selection theory implicitly on the idea of a normal range of variations, he undercut this theme by suggesting (Origin, ch. 4) that nature produced "favorable" variations only rarely. He then addressed this perceived obstacle by suggesting that the presence of a large population (analogous to the conditions producing unconscious selection) increased the chance of useful variations appearing at a given time. The real issue, however, was not the chance of useful variations arising at a given time--what Darwin misleadingly suggested--but the chance of their being included in a given populational sample. Ideally, a full range of variations always exists, according to the distribution principle, yet it is not necessarily represented in every actual sample. Darwin was therefore right to emphasize large populations as a condition favorable to selection. Yet he was logically inconsistent in saying that the chance of their appearing could be increased even while affirming their inherent rarity. Darwin often responded to critics on this and related issues (A. R. Wallace, Fleeming Jenkin, and Moritz Wagner) with appeals to the unconscious selection analogy, for this, he felt, provided a gestalt picture of selection working on a large range of variations, even without the aid of geographic isolation. My paper builds upon yet differs from histories of these controversies written by Peter Bowler, Frank Sulloway, and Susan Morris.
By the end of the eighteenth century, the naturalist Francois Huber and other observers had amassed impressively detailed information about the behavior of bees, in part thanks to artificial hives that quite literally shed light into the recesses of the apiary. Victorian writers transformed those observations into accounts for an industrial age. Figured as a tiny geometrician and engineer, the bee embodied a natural precursor to the technical and scientific accomplishments of modern society. In its enviable and natural precision, the complex instinctive behavior of some lower forms of life prefigured and even surpassed the heights scaled by rational man. In many ways, these tributes merely re-wrote what were essentially familiar parallels between insect and human communities. But in other ways, these accounts of bees and other insects raised new concerns about both the nature of instruments and animal sensibilities. In an age which struggled with the religious and cultural implications of materialism (defined famously by John Tyndall in 1874 as "the doctrine of bodily instruments") the precise operations of the bees shifted from a setpiece of natural theology into unsettled and unsettling discussions of the limits of human reason and human tools.
In 1883 Carl Heitzmann published Microscopical Morphology of the Animal in Health and Disease. One reviewer noted that the book came "in the guise of a manual of normal and pathological histology", but was "obviously intended principally to bring forward the author's own theories." Indeed, for years Heitzmann had opposed the "cell theory" with his own Bioplasson Doctrine. According to Heitzmann, all organisms (single-celled to complex) were composed of a continuous reticular network of protoplasm. Thus, Heitzmann concluded, the human body was "one complex amoeba." Heitzmann's theory evolved from various ideas put forth by his contemporaries (e.g., Rudolf Virchow, T.H. Huxley, Lionel Beale, Edward Curtis), but my talk will concentrate on reactions to the Bioplasson Doctrine, especially those of its critics. Much of the debate against the Bioplasson Doctrine revolved around issues of observation (seeing through lenses as well as the effects of biological fixers and stains) and the imagination in theory formation. One critic insists that the reticular structure of protoplasm was either a creation of the observers mind or the result of faulty adjustments of the microscope. Another detractor denounces the drawings Heitzmann made from tissues, asserting that "they have their prototype in the author's imagination." This paper will look at a theory that emerged during the second half of the 19th century when much interest was shown in the substance most often called "protoplasm" and its possible role as the originally active substance of all life. I will use reactions to Heitzmann's Bioplasson Doctrine, essentially, itself a theory about the role of protoplasm, in order to investigate 19th century ideas concerning observation, imagination, and reason in microscopic work. I will incorporate a discussion of visual imagery as ocular evidence in my investigation of these ideas.
Rachel A. Ankeny Davis
Center for Historical Studies, Princeton University
The Human Genome Project (HGP) has become the largest 'big science' project in the history of the biological sciences. This paper will examine debates surrounding the status of data gathered through the HGP, and particularly conflicts regarding maintaining open access to the genomic sequences generated within the broader scientific community. Traditional ideals of data sharing within scientific communities have been forced to be reexamined and renegotiated in the process of the HGP. Recent pressures caused by the growth of more commercialized, private projects also aimed at sequencing the genomes of the human and other organisms have revealed the need for better historical understanding and contextualization of the development of such standards within biological communities and between public and private entities. It will be argued that various communities primarily focused on particular model organisms provided much of the initial impetus to retain the public n! ature of the project, in large part because many of the same scientists who were involved in early organism genome projects were also integral participants in the planning of large-scale projects within the HGP. Special attention will be drawn to various technologies and models of communication that had been historically successful in organism-based research that were applied in modified forms during the organization and development of the HGP.
This paper explores how the South African botanist, General, and politician Jan Christian Smuts used ideas of environmental holism and of the evolution of the mind to draw up a comprehensive political and scientific program for ecological research in South Africa. Smuts was known throughout his life as a vigorous defender of human rights and of the League of Nations. Yet he was also known for ruthless suppression of native black South Africans, labor unions and political revolutionaries he is also remembered as the General who jailed Mahatma Gandhi. This apparent contradiction provides a focus for my analysis: how could someone both defend human rights and carry out a policy of racial segregation and political suppression? This paper will show that what may look like a paradox to our contemporary eyes actually was a coherent ecologically oriented politics of holism. Smuts's passion for nature, his training as a lawyer and his religious background serve as contextual explanations of his reading of natural law as a basis for civil law. These readings of law were recapitulated by 1926 in a grand theory of holism and evolution. (Smuts coined the word 'holism' in this connection). In his moral and political thinking Smuts became known also as a defender of gradualism, by which he meant that people should gain civil rights and respect incrementally according to the stage of their evolutionary development. Smuts would use these successive stages in the development of the human mind in his holistic theory of evolutionary development in general. Leading ecologists in South Africa such as John William Bews and John Phillips (who coined the term "biotic community") owe a great debt to Smuts and his politics of holism. Two aspects of this human ecological research were particularly important: the human gradualism or ecological "succession" of human personalities researched by Bews, and the concept of an ecological "biotic community" explored by Phillips. Smuts transformed this research into a policy of racial gradualism that respected local ways of life in different ecological homelands, a policy he tried to morally sanctify and promote as author of the famous 1945 Preamble of the United Nation Charter about human rights.
This paper concerns the entanglement of the "discovery" of the electron with the debate over the existence of atoms. It is a widespread view that J. J. Thomson's measurement of the charge to mass ratio of the electron in 1897 and his subsequent measurement of its charge in 1899 eliminated all doubt about the existence of this new sub-atomic entity. I have recently argued that this view is too simplistic and that the so-called "discovery" of the electron was an extended process, lasting from the early 1890s till the early 20th century, that involved scientists working in different areas, from the discharge of electricity through gases to spectroscopy and electromagnetic theory. This is an episode that has been fairly well-documented in the historical literature. However, one of its important aspects has not been adequately explored, namely its interconnection with the debate over the existence of atoms. The belief in the existence of the electron qua sub-atomic particle presupposed a conviction in the existence of atoms. Thus, the complete assimilation of the electron in the ontology of physics would have immediate repercussions for the atomism debate. But the atomism debate remained open till the early 1910s a fact that clearly contradicts the view that the existence of the electron had been established, beyond doubt, by 1899. The aim of this paper is to explore the attitudes of the anti-atomic opposition towards the ontological status of the electron. I will argue that the investigation of the connection between the "discovery" of the electron and the resolution of the atomism debate sheds further light on both issues and helps us to understand more fully the launch of microphysics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, avoiding simplistic discovery narratives and highlighting the complexity of the legitimization and consolidation of microphysics.
Concepts of the "aether of space" took various forms for thinkers such as Descartes, Newton, Faraday, and Maxwell, eventually becoming a mechanical medium that served to mediate "action at a distance" and to carry light and Maxwell's electromagnetic waves. In an experimental program reported in 1887 (and continuing for many years) Michelson and Morley failed to detect the motion of the earth relative to this ether and, in 1905, Einstein's initial paper on special relativity formulated electrodynamics in a way which made the luminiferous ether superfluous. However, as will be shown in this paper, various forms of belief in a mechanical medium persisted among prominent physicists (for example, Michelson, Planck, Lorentz, J. J. Thomson) over the next quarter century. The persistence of these beliefs will be discussed in terms of the bases for mechanistic physics and the factors leading to the decline of mechanism.
The case of Queen v. Northumberland is a remarkable example of the manipulation of expert knowledge on the part of royal administrators, both for the benefit of the crown and for their own financial gain. In 1567, Thomas Percy, 7th Earl of Northumberland was sued by Queen Elizabeth over his refusal to allow the Company of Mines Royal, holders of a monopoly patent on royal mining rights, to mine copper ore on his private lands in the county of Cumberland (now Cumbria), in the northwestern marches of England. Believing that copper, unlike the traditional "royal metals" gold and silver, belonged to the owner of the land where it was found, Northumberland argued in court that the Company of Mines Royal had no right to profit from mining copper which was rightfully his. The crown's lawyers, however, asserted that the copper ore in question also contained some silver, which automatically rendered the copper mines royal property and nullified the Earl's claim to them. The case, tried before the highest court that could be assembled in Elizabethan England, ultimately turned on the amount of silver present in the ore, leaving the Earl at a grave disadvantage. For the crown, through its domination of the Company of Mines Royal (many of whose senior shareholders were members of Elizabeth's Privy Council), enjoyed a complete monopoly over the expert metallurgical knowledge needed to assay the ore and make any such determination. Northumberland, who lacked mining and metallurgical expertise himself and had no access to those who possessed it, was therefore unable to defend himself in court and suffered a costly and humiliating defeat as a result. This paper will examine the particular mining expertise that was so pivotal in determining the verdict, and the ways in which the crown was able to control the outcome of the trial by alternately marshaling and withholding the rare expertise they commanded.
Psychology occupies a peculiar place among the sciences, suspended between methodological demands derived from the physical and biological sciences and a subject matter extending into the social and human sciences. The struggle to creat a science of both subjectivity and behavior and the interrelated effort to develop professional practices utilizing that sciences results illuminate both the formative impact of science on modern life, and the effects of technocratic hopes on science. The aim of this paper is to bring out certain common threads in this varied narrative. One of those commond threads is that the history of psychology has been a continuous struggle by multiple participants to occupy and define a sharply contested, but never clearly bounded, discursive and practical field. A second commond thread is that the history of psychology as a science and that of the psychological profession are inseparable, at least in the twentieth century. A third common thread is that while psychologists struggled to establish international networks, they also drew upon local traditions. As a result the contents of both the discipline and the profession have varied according to particular social and cultural circumstances in ways that do not easily conform to grand narratives of progressive knowledge acquisition and practical success.
On at least seven occasions between 1903 and 1997, the Maisin people of Papua New Guinea attempted to purge their villages of 'old things' -- various artifacts made and used by their ancestors. Some objects were rescued from the earliest bonfire by a missionary and now form part of the Collingwood Bay collection in the Australian Museum. The rest were destroyed and few reminders of the past survive in the villages. This paper is occasioned by a proposal now before the Museum to mount an exhibition of past and contemporary material culture in Collingwood Bay in collaboration with the Maisin. In this paper, I draw upon archival documents and ethnographic fieldwork to trace the journey of those Maisin artifacts that survived local purges to museums and explore the implications of their proposed unveiling before a Maisin public. More specifically, I want to explore how Maisin attitudes towards 'old things' may have evolved through the twentieth century. The fear of old things, I will argue, is the result of a melding of missionary teachings about moral transformation with indigenous notions of the moral, particularly about sorcery and healing. The Australian Museum was a beneficiary of such attitudes at the beginning of the last century. As the new century dawns, it must deal with the legacy, just as Maisin confront their own continuing concerns with artifacts that can, in their view, kill but at the same time present a unique link with a receding past that villagers have come to cherish.
Beginning in the late 1870s, the new science of microbiology identified specific microorganisms as the true causes of many common and deadly diseases. This Bacteriological Revolution promised to remake not only medical science, but also the practice of public health. Scientific and verifiable etiologies would lead inevitably, it seemed, to carefully targeted and effective prophylactic interventions. Indeed, the records of government disease control efforts in France during the last two decades of the nineteenth century clearly show the traces of an increased attention to germs and their spread. Yet the changes in public health practice were slower and more subtle than the dizzying revolution in science might lead one to expect. In particular, the causes to which local physicians attributed specific disease outbreaks in individual communities did not always correspond in any recognizable way to the "official" etiologies of those same diseases in the laboratory or in medical textbooks. Instead, the doctors constructed explanations of each outbreak--street-level etiologies, in effect--that gave lip service to universal causes but relied most heavily on a contextual reading of local political, cultural, and behavioral circumstances. These médecins des épidémies ("epidemic doctors") were physicians appointed to serve as local disease control officers in addition to their regular professional activities. Acting as both a first line of defense against epidemics and as the eyes and ears of the state, epidemic doctors were ostensibly charged with enhancing the responsiveness of local and national authorities to health threats. Close examination of archival records from the late nineteenth century, however, reveals that the médecins des épidémies were also, in an important sense, political and cultural operatives. This paper will suggest some of the ways in which the "local knowledge" of public health both reflected and enacted key historical developments outside of the realm of science and medicine, including secularization, the consolidation of republicanism and national identity, and the "civilizing process."
This paper analyzes the systems of credit and priority adjudication that framed Galileo's early career as an inventor, and compares them to the social system in which he later operated as a discoverer. It starts with a discussion of Galileo the inventor of devices such as water pumps, geometrical compasses, and the telescope. In particular, it looks at the 1607 legal action Galileo brought against Baldessarre Capra, whom he accused of having plagiarized his geometrico-military compass, and then at the historically specific definitions of "invention" and "inventor" that framed Galileo's negotiations with the Venetian Senate regarding the reward and protection of the telescope. Taken together, these two cases describe the legal and financial practices available for the reward of inventions and instruments, and how they framed cateories of priority, property, and plagiarism. The paper then analyzes the radical translation through which these categories were tranferred from the reward of materially useful devices (such as inventions) to that of economically "useless" discoveries (such as the Medicean Stars).
I will examine the methods of reading designed to cope with an overabundance of books in the 16th and 17th centuries, by looking both at advice manuals on how to study and at traces of actual reading. Increased diligence, always recommended, could not suffice. A first strategy was selection: Bacon for example recommended thoroughly digesting only a few books, and merely tasting many others hence the utility of book reviews and critical bibliographies. Another was to rely on the labor of others, either amanuenses hired to take notes or printed collections of notes of the kind one might have taken oneself (e.g. notes by abridgment or by commonplaces offered in encyclopedic reductions and printed florilegia/commonplace books respectively). Occasionally authors speak of cutting up a book to save the labor of copying from it. Extant annotations also reveal the great interest of readers in the devices that facilitated a punctual consultation of a book, especially the alphabetical index. Printers responded to reader demand by supplying increasingly sophisticated indexes, along with apologies and errata to forestall criticism.
Museums play an important role around the world today as communities from the Aleutian Islands to New Zealand to New York to the Russian Far East look for innovative ways to address legacies of colonialism and reinterpret dominant paradigms underlying the representation of the "Other". Many would say that since the 1980s museums, and especially anthropology or natural history museums, have been grappling with a "crisis of mission." The worldwide crisis of direction for museums is particularly thrown into relief in the context of Russia, where an entire society was abruptly forced to reexamine its relationship to government, authority, and local history. This paper draws on the crisis of knowledge in Russian natural history museums to demonstrate both broad trends in the museum world, and the unique place of indigenous Siberians in their growing critique of the Soviet narrative of progress.
Scientists have contributed much to Canadians' ideas about their national territory. If, as Northrop Frye has suggested, the story of humans in the Canadian landscape has been "the conquest of nature by an intelligence that does not love it," then an essential element of this intelligence has been scientific work. Scientists have been especially significant in shaping Canadians' attitudes towards the Arctic. The Arctic has been, for example, represented by geologists as a resource-rich frontier by ecologists, as a fragile wilderness and by climatologists and atmospheric chemists as an international commons or "global laboratory". Most recently, through the accumulation and application of traditional knowledge, science is reasserting the oldest image of the Arctic, that of homeland. Of particular significance is the interaction between these views of the Arctic environment, and the intellectual and institutional evolution of Canadian science since the Second World War. These views have influenced, and have themselves been influenced by, evolving scientific ideas. Views of the Arctic as, for example, a storehouse of resources, a harsh, demanding environment, a fragile wilderness, or an international commons, have also helped to justify increasing funding for northern science, and the creation of new research agencies. Demands on scientists implied by these institutions, and by the political context of these institutions -- that, for example, they provide not general theory, but quantitative, testable, specific information about the Arctic environment--also illustrate how the political and social roles of Arctic science relate to scientific theory, and to the contribution of science to the formation of more general ideas about the environment.
Experimental embryologists in the 1930s attempted to solve the crucial issue of how an embryo develops its specific shapes during ontogenesis. I will focus on Conrad H. Waddington's first approach of the "epigenetic landscape", and roughly sketch how Waddington, Joseph Needham and Jean Brachet among others, searched to define the chemical nature of Hans Spemann's Organizer. I will briefly describe the transplantation experiments that Spemann and his co-workers conducted in the 1920s. These showed that a transplanted blastoporal lip could induce a nearly complete pattern of organ anlage and an axial system, a chimeric structure composed of both donor and host cells. Spemann called this the "Organizer Effect". Hans Correns had correctly pointed out to Spemann in 1921 that the Oraganizer might provide for the correct sequential activation of the genes involved in development, but Spemann was never to deal with this genetic thread in his research nor terminology. Waddington's significant point of departure was to search for the chemical nature of the Organizer, and to clarify embryonic terminology. Encouraged by the members of the Club of Theoretical Biology at Cambridge, Waddington developed a physico-chemical model for sequential morphogenesis during embryogenesis. With a ball game based on the two-dimensional equipotential systems of Hans Driesch and a topographic surface pattern as equated by Alfred Lotka, Waddington simulated embryonic differentiation in a series of steady states that resulted in the equilibrium of development. He visualised the developmental system as "canalized" and pictorially represented it by bifurcations, an epigenetic landscape of hills and valleys, the landscape (choices) changing as development progressed. Needham summarized their experimental data in the "Biochemistry and Morphogenesis" (1942), the successor to his 1931 three-volume work "Chemical Embryology" in which he had first introduced the new area of the chemical basis of ontogeny. The essential difference to Continental experimental embryology was, however, that the British School identified the inducing agent with a biochemical attractor, the so-called masked evocator. By contrasting these two different styles of scientific thought, the talk will address some further questions, e.g., why Spemann did not incorporate the gene, or how deeply Waddington's work relied on Bateson's definition of genetics as the science that deals with the physiology of descent.
Geography was lauded as the queen of enlightenment sciences in the mid-eighteenth century cartography was her sceptre. This paper explores the resonance between the values of precision implicit in cartography and anthropology. Historians of science have tended to assume that precision is intrinsic to cartography but only metaphorically imported into the human sciences. Is this assumption of cartography's priority justified and if so, how is it peculiar to enlightened science? I will examine the rhetorical role of precision in early nineteenth century anthropology of everyday life near home as well as far-flung places. The language of precision may tell us more about the perception of cartography than the maps themselves.
In the late seventeenth century the growth and maintenance of forests to support England's growing commercial and naval timber needs became a serious concern. A response soon came from the Royal Society in the form of John Evelyn's Sylva, a book concerned with both the technicalities of planting trees and the encouragement of private landowners to plant. As the enthusiasm for planting trees and forests grew, the need for experts in the art of silviculture became apparent. Gardeners who concerned themselves with every aspect of large estate gardens were the primary tree planters of this era, and in the years after the publication of Sylva their writings included ever more discussion of trees and forests. In these gardeners' books we see a shift towards mimicry of the scientific writings of Evelyn, plant physiologist Stephen Hales, and other mainstream botanical writers. Among the most prominent gardening writers, their imitation of mainstream academic botanists was skillful enough to gain their acceptance in scientific botany's elite inner circles. In this paper I show how the adoption of methodologies promoted by the Royal Society allowed gardeners to address silviculture in a manner which had the appearance, if perhaps not the content, of science. This spurred their acceptance both among their clients and in the field of academic botany.
Although it is widely known that Hermann von Helmholtz's work On the Sensations of Tone deeply influenced music theory in Anglo-American culture, we still know little about the reception and modification of his ideas in the second half of the nineteenth century. This paper examines the efforts of two English psychologists, James Sully and Edmund Gurney, to reconcile Helmholtz's work with evolutionary theories of mind and nature known through the work of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer. Writing in the years after Darwin and Spencer had themselves theorized on the evolutionary significance of music, Sully and Gurney both believed that music was important because it elicited powerful emotional feelings from men and women living in an increasingly skeptical age. Like many other Victorian scientists, in other words, Sully and Gurney sensed that aesthetic culture could function as a genuinely spiritual alternative to religion. If Helmholtz's work legitimized their quest to put music on a scientific foundation, the "law of evolution," it seemed, was still needed to account for the mysterious "power of sound."
One well-established way into the literature of scientific travel is to consider specific voyages. Recently we have also become accustomed to thinking of the various scientific practices in which travellers engaged, the construction of facts in metropolitan centres back home, and the pragmatic consequences of a voyager's return as seen in the possibilities he or she negotiated for creating expertise and enhancing a career. Here I would like to approach the theme from a slightly different perspective and think about the social economy of the ships themselves, in this case as laboratories. My case study is the scientific research vessel Discovery, first commissioned by the Royal Geographical Society for Robert Scott's National Antarctic Expedition of 1901-4. Although the ship was lavishly fitted up for scientific purposes and the voyage earned Scott, Shackleton and Wilson lasting fame, with a wealth of significant results, its actual role was essentially a passive one as quarters for the crew. It was only during the Banzar Expeditions, 1929-31 that the British government learned how to make use of it as a floating research station.
"Dirt," wrote Mary Douglas, "is matter out of place." Similarly, pests are organisms out of place, viruses in a human cell, weeds in a garden, insects in a field of corn. While all pests are organisms out of place, not all organisms out of place are pests, however, nor do all achieve the status without controversy. The question, then, is not whether an organism is a pest, but, Who says so? Why? And how do they know? In the early part of the twentieth century, a population of fire ants reached Mobile, Alabama after a voyage from South America. By the late 1950s, their numbers had grown to such an extent that the ants were noticed by hunters, farmers, and politicians throughout the South. The ants stung; they destroyed crops; they seemed to kill domestic and wild animals; their mounds interfered with farm machinery. They were called pests and their out-of-placeness memorialized in their name: imported fire ants. To eradicate these pests, the USDA sprayed chemical poisons over the Southeast in the largest insect control operation in American history. The program stirred the anger of environmentalists such as Rachel Carson who objected to the use of the poisons. As part of their protests against the spraying, the environmentalists argued that the ants were not out of place, but that in the 40 years they had survived in the South the insects had become part of the ecology of America. My paper will investigate the mechanisms by which the ants were naturalized, tracing the way Carson and others developed their arguments and deployed them. I will pay attention to what evidence they accumulated and how they chose between conflicting data. The pattern that emerges illustrates that the naturalization of the ants was as much a political as a scientific process. The ants were incorporated into a balanced nature that repudiated what the environmentalists saw as the autocratic bureaucracy of the USDA. The naturalization of the ants allowed the environmentalists to move from a narrowly technical debate--over the toxicity of pesticides--to one that connected to the very definition of American democracy in the post-World War II era. In the end, then, analyzing pests engages the same issues Douglas found in her study of dirt. Both involve "reflection on the relation of order to disorder, being to non-being, form to formlessness, life to death. Wherever ideas of dirt are highly structured," say Douglas, "their analysis discloses a play upon such profound themes."
This paper will focus on physical anthropologist Ales Hrdlicka's work for the 1915-1916 Pacific-California Exposition (San Diego) and examine his use of this public arena to define and promote his discipline. In the early twentieth century, anthropologists sought to expand the institutional support for their discipline. Ales Hrdlicka, a curator at the U. S. National Museum, was often at the center of activities aimed at professionalizing and promoting physical anthropology. He founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology in 1918, led the effort to form the Association of American Physical Anthropologists (which first met in 1930), and wrote countless articles for popular audiences, in addition to his copious scientific publications. During his early career at the Parisian Broca Institute, Hrdlicka saw that in Europe physical anthropology was an established and respected science, a status he hoped it might achieve in the United States. The Exposition provided Hrdlicka with an opportunity to further his plans. The organizers chose as one principle theme "The Science of Man." Anthropological exhibits would be a centerpiece of the fair, and the Smithsonian Institution was contacted to assist in creating them. Ales Hrdlicka received $30,000 from the Exposition corporation to carry out research and create exhibits that would become the core of the show. For Hrdlicka, this funding was a windfall. He saw the Exposition as an excellent venue to define physical anthropology and display the progress researchers had made in understanding human evolution, diversity, and individual development. Perhaps more importantly, the funding enabled Hrdlicka to direct expeditions to Alaska, the Philippines, the Ukraine, Africa, and Australia, and to personally conduct fieldwork in Peru and Siberia. The exhibition project allows me to explore the influence that Hrdlicka's popularizing work had on his research through the funding it provided and the requirements of presenting the discipline to a general audience.
Among the multiple interactions between governments and museums that were so important for the growth of natural history in the 19th century, there may have been none that looked more promising at its inception than did the special "school for naturalist-voyagers" that was established at the Museum of Natural History in Paris in 1819. Proposed initially by the French Minister of the Interior, who also promised to fund the operation, the idea of the school was to train young naturalists who could then be sent off to the far corners of the globe in search of plants, animals, and minerals useful to France and/or interesting to science. The professors of the Museum, not surprisingly, were enthusiastic about the Minister's idea, believing it would assure them of the supply of new specimens on which the progress of natural history depended. However, aligning the interests of the naturalists at the Museum with those of the French government and with a set of aspiring, young voyager-naturalists was not an entirely straightforward matter, as the voyage of discovery to Australia of Captain Baudin had illustrated less than two decades earlier (1800-1804). This paper seeks to reconstruct the diverse aims and interests of the professors of the Museum, the French government, and the candidates for the school. It then explores what became of the school after the first three naturalist voyagers sent out under the project's auspices met disaster respectively in Madagascar, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. Particular attention is paid to the various lessons that seem to have emerged from the Baudin expedition, the diverse regions of the globe in which the Museum and the French Government after 1815 were most interested, and the recurring issue of the control of specimens.
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