CANCELLED: Dominik Hünninger: "(Digitally) Reconstructing Museum Extractions: Colonialism, Industrialisation, and Collection Ecologies between the Pacific and Germany, 1861–1885"

  • Date: –15:00
  • Location: Engelska parken 6-3025 (Rausing Room)
  • Organiser: Office for History of Science, Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: Otto Sibum
  • Seminarium

History of Science Seminar Series

***NB: The seminar in May has been cancelled: Domnik Hünninger will instead present his research in the Autumn of 2023.***

Research presentation by Dominik Hünninger, University of Hamburg.


European museums were actors in and beneficiaries of colonial extraction, industrial pollution, and the establishment of settler societies. As institutions they both facilitated extractive expeditions that changed environments, but they were also sites where the environmental sciences co-developed. These entanglements are however not easy to reconstruct given many museums’ insufficiently documented histories (and archives). The private Museum Godeffroy in Hamburg is a typical case in point where large-scale digitization of specimens and metadata can activate a new environmental history of collections in dialogue with present-day employment of historic collections. Founded and run by the trading, plantation and shipping company Godeffroy and Son, the museum is intrinsically linked to industrialization, mass migration and colonialism in Germany and Oceania. The essay suggests a critical digital reconstruction of the museum’s operations that will not only make visible the diverse labor of collecting but also colonial extractivism, multispecies relations and the historic environments of the specimens now largely lost. Thus, it rethinks provenance research ecologically.