history of knowledge; history of knowledge; gender; colonialism; biography; visual epistemology; visual history; case study; microhistory
Hammel Tanja (2015), Of Birds and (Wo)men, in Arlt Veit, Bishop Stephanie, Schmid Pascal (ed.), Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel, 61-63.
Hammel Tanja (2013), D. Happold, African Naturalist: the Life and Times of Rodney Carrington Wood 1889–1962, in Journal of Southern African Studies
, 39(2), 486-487.
Hammel Tanja, Mary Elizabeth Barber’s Expedition Journal an Experiment with her Identity, in Klemun Marianne, Spring Ulrike (ed.), Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke.
Hammel Tanja, Racial Difference in Mary Elizabeth Barber’s Knowledge on Insects, in Boehi Melanie, Miescher Giorgio, Ramutsindela Maano (ed.), Basler Afrika Bibliographien, Basel.
Hammel Tanja, The Politics and Production of History on the Birth of Archaeology at the Cape, 1827–2015, in Harries Patrick, Lengwiler Martin (ed.), American Publishing House, America.
Hammel Tanja, Thinking with Birds: Mary Elizabeth Barber’s Advocating for Gender Equality in Ornithology, in Kronos: Journal for Southern African Histories
, 41(1), 2015.
At the beginning of the 21st century, knowledge systems about nature face severe challenges. While science is heralded as a key contributor to future solutions of environmental problems, it is also investigated as a cause of nature’s destruction. In order to better understand the position and potential of scientific knowledge in the present crisis, there is a new need to examine the foundation period of natural science, its historical context and inherited structures. This project contributes to a wider debate on the development of scientific knowledge through a rigorous archival-based historical case study that examines the role of gender, locality and subjectivity in the transnational making of knowledge about nature. Mary Elizabeth Barber (1818-1899) was an exceptional British born and South African-based naturalist. In her pursuit of Humboldtian science, she transgressed gender boundaries, borders between the colonies and the metropolis, and between local and international knowledge. In a micro-historical inquiry, this PhD investigates the conditions of knowledge production and takes Barber’s lifeworld, British colonialism in a frontier region, Darwinist discourse as well as cultural and scientific practices in South-North exchange into account. She is part of a small cohort of 19th-century female scientists that has recently attracted wider interest in historical research because of their role in the making of ‘universal’ knowledge systems. The impact of colonialism, Frontier Wars (1834-1879), the Diamond (1871) and Gold Rushes (1886) opened up opportunities for Barber in the new and growing disciplines of the natural sciences. Socialised into a male sphere of farmers and naturalists, she zealously contributed to the making of science through her correspondence. Despite being marginalized as an amateur and as a female scholar, she corresponded with influential scientists of her time, such as entomologist Roland Trimen (1840-1916), botanists William H. Harvey (1811-1866) and Joseph D. Hooker (1817-1911) as well as naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-82). Engaged in Darwin’s early reception, she was torn between her Christian faith and Darwin’s evolutionary theory. This project is situated within the innovative Swiss Wissensgeschichte, which - in dialogue with the Anglophone History of Knowledge - is developing new perspectives on socio-cultural, religious and political factors that shape concepts of science and nature. Scientific knowledge is based on multisensory, emotional and intellectual perceptions of the environment. These perceptions draw on visual and material sources to construct and circulate transcultural knowledge. Through their investigation, I will focus on the project’s central questions:•What impact did women like Barber have on the development of natural science disciplines? •How did social factors influence knowledge production? •What role did local informants and their forms of knowledge play in Barber’s work?•In what ways did the exploration of nature in colonial spaces affect colonialism; contribute to the colonists’ sense of belonging, ownership of the land, and its contents? How did South-North information exchange shape 19th-century constructions of ‘universal’ knowledge systems?