The Dinosaur's Ambiguity: Sea Snakes, Iguanodons, and why Brussels Failed to Get its own Diplodocus

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

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 contributionThe Dinosaur's Ambiguity: Sea Snakes, Iguanodons, and why Brussels Failed to Get its own Diplodocus
Original languageDutch
Pages (from-to)287-311
Number of pages25
JournalDe Moderne Tijd
Volume3
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2019

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Donation
Dinosaurs
Bruxelles
Snakes
Popular Politics
Leopold II
History
Genocide
Arbitration
Popular Culture
Plaster
High Culture

Keywords

  • Dinosaurs
  • Belgium
  • Popular science

Cite this

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title = "De ambigu{\"i}teit van de dinosaurus: Zeeslangen, Iguanodons en waarom Brussel geen Diplodocus kreeg",
abstract = "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.",
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De ambiguïteit van de dinosaurus : Zeeslangen, Iguanodons en waarom Brussel geen Diplodocus kreeg. / Nieuwland, Ilja.

In: De Moderne Tijd, Vol. 3, No. 1, 21.03.2019, p. 287-311.

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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