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Jens Amborg, PhD Candidate and Fulbright visiting student researcher

Thu April 6th 2023, 4:30 - 6:00pm
History Room 307

Department of History of Science and Ideas
University of Uppsala

The Voyage of the Three Tibetan Sheep: Animal Breeding in the Eighteenth-Century French Empire

In 1766, by the end of his collaboration with Buffon as co-author of the 15 first volumes of the Histoire naturelle, the naturalist Louis Jean-Marie Daubenton (1716-1799) was commissioned by the French state to conduct ‘experiments on the improvement of races of sheep’. At a time when the wool industry constituted a crucial part of the national economy, his ultimate objective was to improve the French sheep population. With his country’s colonial network put at his disposal, Daubenton received live sheep from England, Spain, Morocco and, most spectacularly, Tibet to the experimental farm that had been established in his native town, Montbard, for the purpose of the experiments. While colonial botany has received much well-deserved attention in recent scholarship, we know considerably less about the role of animals in colonial natural history. By focusing on the voyage of the sheep brought from Tibet, through Isle de France (Mauritius), to Montbard, this paper explores the animal side of science and empire.