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18th century palaeontology



For those interested in the pre-Alfred Russel
Wallace/Darwin history of the concepts of "natural
selection", etc., Londa Schiebinger over the years has
published cogent papers. In particular, I would
recommend her 'The private life of plants: sexual
politics in Carl Linnaeus and Erasmus Darwin' in
Marina Benjamin's 1991 volume Science & Sensibility:
gender & scientific inquiry 1780-1945. In reading the
work carefully, one understands why there were no
women palaeontologists.
The interrelationships between 18th/19th century
colonial expansion and the development of
palaeontology (and other sciences) is an area worthy
of attention, as Marsh, Stromer, et al., made their
discoveries because of such expansions. Still to be
analysed (Cope has been covered quite well by Jane
Davidson) are the letters and papers of O.C. Marsh to
determine how the gendering of taxonomy in the 1800s
effected his mind-set.
Londa Shiebinger has two forthcoming books:
Harvard University Press, Colonial botany: gender,
politics, & commerce between Europe and & the West
Indies in the eighteenth century
with Claudia Swan, Botany & empire: science, politics,
commerce (Univ. Pennsylvania Press).

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