Working Group (2018-)

Out of the Cabinet of Curiosities: Knowing Animals in the World

The working group, Out of the Cabinet of Curiosities aims to build new scholarly understandings of animals. Offering an alternative to trajectories  hinged to natural history collecting activities that viewed world historical contexts as exotic resources, projects consider the relationships between animal materialities and knowledge production. This group reckons with animals as tactile, textual, and geographic sources in cultures with varying approaches toward the mundane, cosmological, and environmental worlds in which animals live or struggle. Focusing on the diverse regional and institutional worlds of animals and animal research, our inquiry questions the equivalencies between knowing animals and scientific knowledge. Scholars of Asia and the Pacific, Africa, and the Americas use diverse methodological interrogations of animalian materials and texts to open up different temporalities for historical analysis. Critical analyses of philology, anthropology, zooarchaeology, and other methods complement familiar archival work. These different inquiries ultimately amplify our understanding of different cadences of world histories that integrate animals and expanded meanings of making science.