"We need to talk about Richard Owen"

This abstract has open access
Abstract Summary
The historiography of Richard Owen has focused on certain aspects of his character; from his difficult personality, rivalries, keenness on power to his museum enterprise and his standing-point on transmutation. However, an integral understanding of him still lacks in the literature. More specifically, of his years in the Royal College of Surgeons (1827-1856) – a period that remains in the shadow of Darwinism. In this work, Moral Economy is used as an analytical tool to illustrate the non-monetary resource management that Owen undertook in a specific social context in order to achieve his ambitions of institutionalising the field of Comparative Anatomy and being Britain´s most eminent naturalist. Through the study of Owen´s growth and expenditure of socio-political, intellectual, and emotional capital, a more humane and neutral portrayal of this controversial figure is exposed. As a little-explored arena, the former is particularly discussed. Owen´s historiography has focused particularly on his professional correspondence with men. However, Owen´s personal letters to his wife, mother and sisters reveal a different emotional expression. In that sense, Owen´s emotional capital touches on how his intimate relationship with his family provided a space where he privately curated his other capitals and how this had a direct impact on his professional development. Together with an analysis of his socio-political and intellectual capitals, this paper offers a synthetic approach where single behaviours are not over-interpreted, but normalised. Therefore, it challenges the long-held vision of an overwhelmingly defensive and power-centred naturalist.
Abstract ID :
HSS953
Submission Type
Chronological Classification :
19th century
Self-Designated Keywords :
Richard Owen, Moral Economy, Social Capital, Political Capital, Intellectual Capital, Emotional Capital, Professionalisation of Science

Associated Sessions

Similar Abstracts by Type

Abstract ID
Abstract Title
Abstract Topic
Submission Type
Primary Author
HSS962
"The Most Noble of All Commodities": Mineral Trade and the Earth Sciences in the Early Modern World
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Flashtalk
Claire Conklin Sabel
HSS953
"We need to talk about Richard Owen"
Aspects of Scientific Practice/Organization
Flashtalk
Ms. Daniela Sclavo
HSS967
At Home in the Museum: the Collection of Frederik Ruysch
Medicine and Health
Flashtalk
Ms. Isabel Van Paasschen
HSS965
Biodiversity on Display: Museological and Scientific Practices in Natural History Museums Exhibitions
Biology
Flashtalk
MARIANA SOLER
HSS939
Mapping and the Microscope
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Flashtalk
Pamela Mackenzie
HSS963
Natural sciences in the thought of Jabir ibn Hayyan
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Flashtalk
Ms. Marziyehsadat Montazeritabar
HSS964
Printing Between the Lines: A Sixteenth-Century Historical Table
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Flashtalk
Ashley Gonik
HSS969
Science Policy in Portugal: The Instituto Nacional de Investigação Científica (INIC)
Aspects of Scientific Practice/Organization
Flashtalk
Hugo Soares
HSS968
Specimens of Trade: Medical Treatments and Knowledge from Herbal Texts over Time and Space
Tools for Historians of Science
Flashtalk
Ms. Marianne Jennifer Datiles

Similar Abstracts by Topic

Abstract ID
Abstract Title
Abstract Topic
Submission Type
Primary Author
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
HSS661022
"Measuring Instruments" for Language History: Rhetoric and Reality of a Nineteenth-Century Latinist
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Contributed Paper
Christian Flow
HSS92
"Off Alone on My Tramps": Correspondence Networks of Women Botanists in the U.S. Frontier West
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Organized Session
Dr. Tina Gianquitto
HSS884
"Science is the Antichrist": Popular Science, Radicalism, and Irreligion in Early Nineteenth-Century Britain
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Contributed Paper
Mr. Eoin Carter
HSS142
"To Study What Is Ours": Scientific and Political Representations of Africa in the Lisbon Zoological Museum, 1862-1881
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Organized Session
Ms. Catarina Madruga
HSS253
"When I Saw It, I Began to Scream": Discovery and Loss in the Visual History of Human Embryology
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Organized Session
Prof. Nick Hopwood
HSS692
A Mantra for Elephants: Religion and Animal Modernity in Early Modern Malaya
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Organized Session
Faizah Zakaria
HSS567
A Science without Nature in China: Heaven (Tian), Morality, and Darwinian Competition from 1890 to 1923
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Contributed Paper
Dr. Sean Hsiang-lin Lei
HSS766
A Shared Enterprise of Knowledge: Ottoman and European Scholars on Experience and Revising Knowledge
Thematic Approaches to the Study of Science
Organized Session
Ms. Duygu Yildirim