The 2023-2024 Emanuel Fellows are working on exciting new projects at the intersection of animal history and history of science, technology and medicine. Peter Braden's project brings together animal behavior studies, history of science, and public health in new and unexpected ways, while also making new contributions to the history of lab sciences in Asia. Derek Nelson's project is an innovative blend of history of biology, technology and globalization, in which looking at a humble worm opens wide-ranging questions about economic and environmental history.
Peter Braden, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2020
Collateral Killing: Humans, Rodents, and the Making of the Life Sciences in China, 1940-1980
Rodents are both experimental subjects, and historical subjects. They are bodies for scientists to scrutinize, and sentient, social beings with memories, fears, preferences, and aversions. The behavior and physiology of these intelligent individuals cause their lives to intersect with diverse human communities and institutions, from farms and sewers to laboratories and biological warfare production facilities. This project situates Chinese laboratory animals in their historical and scientific context, by showing how nonhuman agency and subjectivity interacted with human programs of biomedical research, public health, and national defense in midtwentieth century China. During this period, the Imperial Japanese invasion and the wars in Korea and Vietnam motivated Chinese scientific and public health authorities to launch ambitious, simultaneous programs of laboratory animal husbandry and rodent extermination. The project advances a novel, multispecies approach to the histories of scientific experimentation, ecological intervention, and drug development. As historical subjects, rodents challenge the tidy boundaries between war and peace, field and laboratory, and traditional Chinese and Western biomedical understandings of sickness and health.
Derek Nelson, Ph.D., University of New Hampshire, 2018
Reexamining Historical Introductions of Marine Wood-Boring Species from the Perspective of the History of Science and Technology
Few animals have had a global impact on par with marine woodborers. Teredinids and limnoriids—more commonly known as shipworms and gribbles—have subtly, and not so subtly, shaped the maritime world and reshaped coastal landscapes for centuries. Their impact on marine scientific thought, maritime technology, and urban design is perceptible to this day. Ironically, few people today have heard of these organisms once known the world over. My research examines these world historic animals by tracing their global redistribution since the 1500s and demonstrating how they shaped peoples, science, and technology for centuries. While new shipping technologies and preservation techniques have all but erased woodborers from popular imaginations, climate change is thrusting them back into our collective consciousness by spreading them to new harbors. The time is right to rediscover marine woodborers and mine their history for the scientific and technological insight it may offer in the present and future.
The Emanuel Fellowship was generously established in 2022 by Ezekiel Emanuel to support independent scholars in the history of science, technology and medicine.