Mareike Vennen: “Instructing, Preserving, Infesting: Living and Deadly Environments of Collecting“

Instructing Colonial Natural History Seminar Series

Abstract: Instructions for collecting and packing animals aimed at preserving natural history specimens in the field to make them mobile. Yet, the latter constantly risked of being eaten up by other animals, who, moreover, often fed on the transport infrastructures, burrowing and eating their way through vessels or infesting supplies. Therefore, toxic substances such as arsenic were in use for a long time, for which many manuals provided recipes. At the same time, more and more live animals destined for zoos or aquariums were traveling – often on the same ships as the specimens and stowaways. In this talk, I am asking: Who was cared for, preserved or disposed of? I will explore – through the lens of instructions – the role natural history played in creating living and deadly environments of collecting, and the toxic legacy of colonialism.

Seminar with Dr Mareike Vennen, Researcher at the Technische Universität Berlin.

The Instructing Colonial Natural History Seminar Series is run by the Instructing Natural History Research Group.