Border Crossings

in Landscapes and Labscapes

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780226450094
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226450117 | DOI:
Border Crossings

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The new natural history was an inspiration but not a practical guide to action. It was individual practitioners and their experiences of success and failure that shaped the border culture that in time emerged. Field naturalists valued natural settings and locational ways of knowing—mapping and classification—as much as they did precision and causal analysis. They were more tolerant of complex problems and circumstantial evidence than experimentalists were, and more willing to sacrifice rigor to make a start on a complex problem. Customs of participation differed in lab and field culture: laboratories were accessible only to experts, the field to people of various sorts. This difference became important when the movement for a new natural history expanded the possibilities for participation by people with a range of scientific standing: lab experts, field biologists, students, amateurs, sportsmen. This cultural dynamic made evolutionists and ecologists less tolerant of mixed practices, because they judged themselves by laboratory standards.

Keywords: natural history; scientific standing; laboratory standards; complex problems; field culture

Chapter.  15263 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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