University of Erfurt

Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt

Projekt von Hajo Frölich M.A.

Science, Entertainment, and Politics: A History of the Chinese Zoo, 1906–2008

My project deals with the history of zoological gardens in twentieth century China and their position between science, entertainment and politics.

In Gotha, I focus on the first aspect, in particular the beginnings of modern zoology in China. Around 1900, this began to replace earlier forms of animal-related research. Scientific journals as well as scientific and general travel reports in the Gotha collections will provide insights into the activities of German as well as other foreign zoologists in China between 1900 and 1950. In order to learn more about the interrelations and transfer of zoological knowledge, I inquire if and in which ways foreign zoologists came into contact and cooperated with Chinese colleagues, and how the former portrayed the latter. Thus far, research on the nineteenth century has found hardly any interaction between both groups. My hypothesis is that this changed after 1900.

Besides, I also search for references to China’s zoological gardens, the first of which opened in 1906. So far, we know very little about the role these played for zoological research in China.

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