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  • Writer's pictureART HISTORY

Initiatives, Discoveries & Blunders: Colonial Science & the Acclimatization Movement

Kathleen Davidson, Initiatives, Discoveries and Blunders: Colonial Science and the Acclimatization Movement in the Illustrated Periodicals. Thursday 26 May 3-4.30pm. LINK for Zoom

‘Chacun à Son Gout; or, Different Governors, Different Tastes’, Melbourne Punch, 19 November 1863

The visual culture of colonial science is gradually being revealed as a rich and diverse area for investigation. Yet, its representation in the illustrated periodicals remains an acutely understudied subject. This paper investigates the complex role of illustrated magazines in Australia in both publicizing and evaluating colonial science for general audiences from the 1860s. Taking the acclimatization movement as a case study, the paper examines how the illustrated magazines directly addressed this ‘paradigmatic colonial science’ and also skilfully deployed it to satirize, parody and allegorize wide-ranging contemporary practices, ideas and issues ranging from citizen science and environmental concerns to domestic advice and political reforms and controversies. The illustrated periodicals became a prominent arena for discourse between government decision-makers, the emergent professional class of scientists, avocational practitioners and the general public – presenting scientific initiatives and discoveries through the most accessible means and probing them for their broader and longer-term benefits and effects.

Kathleen Davidson is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Sydney. Her research addresses the intersections of visual art and science, focussing on nineteenth-century intellectual, professional and artistic networks and exchanges. Recent publications include Photography, Natural History and the Nineteenth-Century Museum: Exchanging Views of Empire (2020; 2017); ‘Speculative Viewing: Victorians’ Encounters with Coral Reefs’, Victorian Environments (2018); Sea Currents in Nineteenth-Century Art, Science and Culture (with Molly Duggins; forthcoming).

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