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Nature, the Exotic, and the Science of French Colonialism (Science, Technology,) Hardcover – May 1, 1994

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From the Back Cover

The colonization of Algeria in the nineteenth century was premised on the belief that Europeans, as well as non-indigenous animals and plants, could acclimatize to life in North Africa. While traditional French science showed little interest in such practical matters as attempting to adapt exotic plants and animals to new environments, support came from the Societe zoologique d'acclimatation - the ""French Sierra Club"" - whose story is the subject of this book. Because its work was politically useful in support of France's colonial ambitions in Algeria and elsewhere, the Society found favor with Napoleon III's government, and its influence was soon widespread. For example, the Society fostered the creation of nature preserves in Africa and zoos in Paris, and its ideas changed the research agendas of pure science as well. In this major study of how the acquisition of empire affected French science, Michael A. Osborne treats in turn the founding of the Society and its evolution to 1920; its monument to Napoleon III's ""modern"" Paris, the Jardin zoologique d'acclimatation; the Society's core scientific ideology of Lamarckian transformation; the history of provincial acclimatization societies in Nancy and Grenoble; and the Society's activities in the colonies of the new French empire. An important study of the patronage and politics of science, this book offers new insights for students of environmentalism, science history and policy, and modern European history.
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Product Details

  • Series: Science, Technology,
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press; First Edition edition (May 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 025334266X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253342669
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,358,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
In this interesting and well researched book, Michael Osborne outlines the development of the acclimatization movement in France under the auspices of the Société zoologique d'acclimatation. Osborne focuses on the activities and goals of the Société from its origins in the mid-1850's to the outbreak of the Great War. In addition, he compliments his discussion of the Société's endeavors in Paris with significant examinations of acclimatization research in "Greater France," especially Algeria. Although at times it is difficult to pin down, the author's thesis claims that the success of acclimatization activities had been dependent upon economic and political variables and not scientific ones. Osborne supports this position by pointing out that the Société's zenith coincided the reign of Napoléon III, a time when it enjoyed patronage from the highest political echelons. At the same time, he shows that the acclimatization movement experienced a devastating decline immediately after the collapse of the Second Empire in 1871. First, Osborne reviews the roots of the Société and its birth in 1854. Its original concerns were to promote popular natural history, nurture the exotic animal industry, expand the French diet to include colonial foodstuffs and horse meat, and to encourage environmental conservation. He also defines acclimatization as the imprinting of an organism with "modifications which render it able to live and to perpetuate its species under new conditions of existence (Osborne, 2)." After explaining the origins of the Société, he provides an exhaustive chronology of its presidents beginning with its first, Isidore St-Hilaire.Read more ›
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