Jens Amborg: Mid Term Seminar

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: Engelska parken 6-3025 (Rausing Room)
  • Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas
  • Contact person: Hanna Hodacs
  • Halvtidsseminarium

Higher Seminar in the History of Science and Ideas

Jens Amborg presents his PhD dissertation draft: “Breeding the Enlightenment: Improving Humans and Animals in Eighteenth-Century France”. Opponent: Andrew Curran (Wesleyan University). 

The seminar will be held in English.


This dissertation project, tentatively entitled Breeding the Enlightenment: Improving Humans and Animals in Eighteenth-Century France, explores the relationship between natural history and animal breeding in eighteenth-century France. In the period, livestock breeding turned into a prioritized project on the national level. When people had observed that animals could be improved by methods of selection, it did not take long before some also suggested that the same should be done to improve the human species. By studying the period’s agricultural and scientific literature in combination with a large amount of unpublished archival sources, and by focusing on rarely studied historical actors, this dissertation attempts to show how a unique intellectual exchange emerged in eighteenth-century France between physicians, naturalists, breeders and domestic animals. This exchange transformed the way people thought about, and often practically tried out, the possibilities of improving bodies and populations of animals, and ultimately of humans. The dissertation’s central claim is that the development of the modern life sciences, and especially the concepts of reproduction and race, were strongly shaped by animal breeding knowledge. The influence from breeding furthermore led people to think that species transformation is both commonly occurring and possible to manage for the sake of racial improvement.

Illustration: ’’Proportions géometrales du cheval’,Claude Bourgelat, Élémens d’hippiatrique, 1750. Image source: Bibliothèque nationale de France


Higher Seminar in the History of Science and Ideas