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The Nature of Empire – Decolonising the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum

The Nature of Empire



An illustrated booklet exploring the museum’s connections to Empire and the consequences of colonialism for the natural world.


Detailed Description

Like many natural history museums, D’Arcy Thompson’s zoology collection was largely acquired during the colonial era of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of the museum’s specimens come from colonies and dominions of the British Empire as well as the colonies of other European countries. Often, these animals were killed by trophy hunters or by the agents of professional natural history dealers who exploited other countries in order to collect animals for profit. Some of the specimens in the museum are from species that are now extinct or endangered because of colonial activity, and the scientific research that such specimens were collected for often reinforced racist or colonial beliefs. This illustrated booklet explores some of the previously hidden stories of the museum’s connections to empire, slavery and racism, as part of an on-going project to decolonise the collections.

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