History of Science Society 3
The dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History have famously been examined by Donna Haraway as an example of “Teddy Bear Patriarchy.” Less attention has been paid to Dinosaur Hall, which opened in 1927. Science Studies scholar Alison Laurence shows in her paper that extinct animals could convey concepts of gender, ethnicity and race no less than could dioramas of contemporary animals, particularly because the same people often worked on both kinds of displays.
Natalia Aleksiun, a historian of Judaism, investigates the same period as Laurence in very different places and circumstances. In East Central Europe between the wars, questions of race, ethnicity, and religion emerged in a bitter struggle within medical faculties over the use of Jewish and Gentile cadavers in anatomical training. Historian of science Karen Rader will offer commentary. Rader has written on animal use in science and most recently on natural history museums.
The audience for this session should cut across diverse subfields, from the history of science and medicine to histories of race, gender, and religion. The presenters represent career stages from graduate student to mid-career to senior scholars, and four different parts of the US.