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The Hammer, the Pencil and the Map. Tinkering Locality at the Nantes Natural History Museum 1830-1869

Abstract : Maps are considered a typical tool for the political appropriation of place. However, the performativity of maps often eludes the on-site practical work and the subsequent compilation of the data collected on the field. Like most French départements, a survey of mineralogical resources was commissioned in the early nineteenth century, for the Loire-Inférieure, roughly the region around the estuary of River Loire and the city of Nantes. The corps of Mining Engineers was generally trusted with the description of strategic underground resources. But in the case of Nantes, both the 1830 and 1860 campaigns were conducted by the Directors of the Nantes Natural History Museum, François Dubuisson and later Frédéric Cailliaud. Attesting for the on-site scrutinisation of the mapped region as well as for the subsequent realisation of the map, the sizeable corpus of archival material left by Dubuisson and Cailliaud helps to better understand the local and contextual specificity of collecting minerals, measurements and notes to map an area. These documents illuminate the behind the scenes of the finished product as well as a much overlooked role of natural history museums as a local scientific centre of expertise in natural collecting. More importantly, in light of the amount of minerals collected in the framework of the mineralogical survey, the relationship between the map and the museum collection needs to be interrogated. Deconstructing tales of homogeneous French nation-building, this paper aims at insisting on modalities of construction of locality as a parallel process and at the essential role of collecting practices in the production of locality.
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Contributor : Deborah Dubald <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, April 14, 2020 - 9:01:10 PM
Last modification on : Friday, April 2, 2021 - 12:00:02 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-02542756, version 1



Déborah Dubald. The Hammer, the Pencil and the Map. Tinkering Locality at the Nantes Natural History Museum 1830-1869. British Society for the History of Science postgraduate conference, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, Apr 2019, Cambridge, United Kingdom. ⟨halshs-02542756⟩



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