Jens Amborg: Avhandlingskapitel

  • Datum: –15.00
  • Plats: Engelska parken Rausingrummet, hus 6
  • Arrangör: Institutionen för idé- och lärdomshistoria
  • Kontaktperson: Hanna Hodacs
  • Seminarium

Högre seminariet

This draft of a dissertation chapter examines how animal breeding emerged as an experimental practice in natural history in mid-eighteenth-century France. In this context, animal generation was a hotly debated topic as the preformist theories of generation – which asserted that animals developed from preexisting germs in either the male semen or the female ovaries – became increasingly criticized, after having been dominant in science since the late seventeenth century. I will argue that the period c.1745-1749 constituted a breakthrough for selective animal breeding in natural history, coinciding with the introduction of the concept of ‘reproduction’ in science. In these years, three of France’s most prominent naturalists – Maupertuis, Réaumur and Buffon – started to pay attention to the practical knowledge of selective breeding. In their view, experiments and observations of animal breeding seemed to promise an answer to the question of how traits were transmitted from parents to offspring. The chapter highlights how these naturalists, when developing their theories, began to rely on both observations of livestock from agriculture (which had previously been largely ignored) and their own experiments with domestic animals. It will be argued that in some of these situations, experimental knowledge production was closely entangled with emotional attachment stemming from the close interaction between naturalists and animal companions.