Leave more room for chance, intuition and unexpected twists

Nele Wynants is a professor of art and theatre studies at UAntwerp. Her research is on the interface of science, media and performance. In her EU-funded project Science at the Fair, she explores the world of travelling science shows in the 19th century. She told us about how the project came about and made a passionate plea for more room for chance, intuition and unexpected twists in research.

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Travelling zoos as knowledge mediators?

Travelling zoos were a common and very popular form of entertainment in the long nineteenth century. Also known as menageries, they were large companies that moved around with various exotic wild species such as lions, tigers, and elephants. For young and old alike, it was often the first and only time they got to see these impressive quadrupeds. Even though they were considered mainly a form of travelling entertainment at funfairs, I will show that itinerant zoos were also an important hub for the circulation of various forms of knowledge.

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