In the opening years of the 20th century, the Scottish Magnate Andrew Carnegie used the donation of plaster casts of the dinosaur Diplodocus as a means to influence European heads of state in favor of his scheme for conflict arbitration. This contribution examines the way in which these casts became a border object between the worlds of science, high and popular culture, and politics, by looking at the history of the public assimilation of dinosaurs. Specifically, it focuses on an earlier example of such donations: the Iguanodons which were given away by the Belgian state and the Belgian king Leopold II personally, after 1890. These developments collided when Carnegie’s donation of a Diplodocus floundered because of Leopold’s rapidly deteriorating reputation as a consequence of the Congolese genocide – a reminder that for Carnegie, despite the cultural and scientific appeal of his donations, politics remained at the center of his campaign.
|Translated title of the contribution||The Dinosaur's Ambiguity: Sea Snakes, Iguanodons, and why Brussels Failed to Get its own Diplodocus|
|Number of pages||25|
|Journal||De Moderne Tijd|
|Publication status||Published - 21 Mar 2019|
- Popular science