on June 6, 2023
Published on April 17, 2023 Updated on March 4, 2024

Guest Lecture: Dorothée Rusque


A World of Natural Specimens. The rise of the Globalized Market of Natural History in the Eighteenth-Century Europe.

Dorothée Rusque is historian. She is currently Marie Skolodowska/EUTOPIA-SIF postdoctoral fellow at CY Cergy Paris University, invited by the laboratory Héritages.

At the crossroads of global history, economic history, history of knowledge and material history, this presentation explores the modalities of the naturalist market’s globalization in the 18th and 19th Europe. The study of natural history developed considerably in the 18th century, to the point of becoming a dominant field of knowledge. While the colonial and scientific expeditions contributed to the inventory of the natural world, the scholars tried to classify it by various systems and methods. The multiplication of collections gathered by naturalists, amateurs and curious also gave a new dimension to the quest for natural specimens. This quest contributed to the emergence of a naturalist market in the main European metropoles, where shops and collections’ auctions were concentrated.

This presentation attempts to capture the naturalist trade by examining the role of merchants - especially the case of the Forsters family business - and the process of commoditization of nature. The analysis combines different scales of observation, by paying attention to the place of the shops within the urban space, the main sites of the European naturalist market and its global expansion through the exchange networks and circulation of natural specimens within the British Empire. I will thus question the construction of the economic value of objects which is ensured by tools such as auction catalogues, the merchants as intermediaries between producers and consumers of natural specimens, as well as the interconnexions between scientific knowledge and commercial knowledge

Date: 6th June 2023 from 12:30 to 14:00

The hybrid guest elcture is organised in person at the Auditorium of MIR in Neuville-sur-Oise and remotely on Zoom.

To attend the remote guest lecture, please connect to Zoom: https://cyu-fr.zoom.us/j/94697276348

Meeting ID: 946 9727 6348

The video will be online on the CY AS YouTube channel