Alfred Wallace’s Baby Orangutan: A Game, a Pet, a Specimen

This abstract has open access
Abstract Summary
British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace was a freelance collector. During his expedition to the Malay Archipelago he had collected 125,000 specimens, mostly insects and birds, thousands of them previously unfamiliar to European naturalists. Wallace dried, labeled, preserved and packed the specimens and periodically shipped them to his London agent for sale. In the morning of 16 May 1855 Wallace picked up a young orangutan from a swamp in the island of Borneo, Southeast Asia. He carried the little creature home, and for a while lived with the orangutan in his “bachelor establishment.” The relations Wallace had cultivated with the young orangutan are peculiar in the context of hunting tradition. Read on the backdrop of imperial hunting, the encounter between the naturalist and the orangutan is an anomalous, a momentary breach of the hunters’ agenda. However, when re-contextualized in the history of animal experimentation, Wallace’s treatment of the orangutan joined other incidences in which scientists observed their pet animals, occasionally even subjected them to experiments. Drawing from historian of science Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science (1990), I’ll argue that the encounter between Wallace and the baby orangutan is of special analytical value as it is situated at the juncture of hunting narratives, per ownership, colonial bioprospecting and laboratory culture. The entrance of the baby orangutan into Wallace’s home provides an early example for the future complex attitudes towards primates in research, intertwining ideas about family life, care, use and abuse.
Abstract ID :
HSS409
Submission Type
Abstract Topic
Chronological Classification :
19th century
Self-Designated Keywords :
natural history, bioprospecting, Alfred Russell Wallace, experimentation, pet keeping

Similar Abstracts by Type

Abstract ID
Abstract Title
Abstract Topic
Submission Type
Primary Author
HSS575
"A Place for Human Inquiry": Lomonosov’s Mineral Science
Aspects of Scientific Practice/Organization
Organized Session
Prof. Anna Graber
HSS355
"Atomic Spaghetti": Nuclear Energy and Agriculture in Italy, 1950s-1970s
Technology
Organized Session
Francesco Cassata
HSS320
"Beginning of the Entomological Enterprise in China": Jiangsu Provincial Bureau of Entomology and Its Locust Control, 1922-1931
Biology
Organized Session
Dr. Yubin Shen
HSS339
"Black Strokes upon White Paper": Changing Attitudes Towards Symbolic Algebra from the 19th into the 20th Century
Mathematics
Organized Session
Dr. Christopher Hollings
HSS587
"Despite the Asylum, Not Instead of It": Community Psychiatry in West Germany (1960-1980)
Medicine and Health
Organized Session
Chantal Marazia
HSS872
"Development" and Disarmament: The Twin Track of Pugwash in the Early 1970s
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Organized Session
Dr. Alison Kraft
HSS776
"Ideal Specimens": Butterfly Nature Prints, Entomology, and the Decorative Arts in Early 20th Century Japan
Biology
Organized Session
Ms. Kerstin Pannhorst
HSS5847
"Imago": Stories from the Margins of Global Insect Studies, 18th to 20th Centuries
Biology
Organized Session
Dr. Dominik Huenniger
HSS512
"Journalization" of Science Publishing: Periodicity of Book Formats at Springer, North-Holland, OUP, and Interscience, 1950-1965
Aspects of Scientific Practice/Organization
Organized Session
Alrun Schmidtke

Similar Abstracts by Topic

Abstract ID
Abstract Title
Abstract Topic
Submission Type
Primary Author
HSS231024
A Musical Story of Time ♬
Tools for Historians of Science
Contributed Paper
Susanna Bloem
HSS618
A Note on Tone: Carl Stumpf’s Tone Psychology and the Violin
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Julia Kursell
HSS880
Behavior (Un)Archived: Research Films in East German Bioacoustics
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Sophia Gräfe
HSS623
Between Signal and Symbol: Sound, Speech, and the Data of Language
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Dr. Xiaochang Li
HSS328
Children of Science
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Carola Ossmer
HSS921
Diversity and Biodiversity: Applying Oral History to Community, Ecology, and Archeology in America’s Amazon
Tools for Historians of Science
Contributed Paper
Kathy Cooke
HSS583
Exploring New "Histories of Nature" with Marine Microbes: Living Matter at the Edge of Life
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Dr. astrid schrader
HSS73
Fact-Checking Herodotus across the Disciplines
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Prof. Suzanne Marchand
HSS658
From Analog to Digital: What Happens When a Historic Film Archive is Stored Electronically?
Tools for Historians of Science
Organized Session
Dr. Anja Sattelmacher