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Devils reproducing Like Rabbits: The Curious History of Penguin Farming in Norway
KTH, School of Architecture and the Built Environment (ABE), Philosophy and History of Technology, History of Science, Technology and Environment.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0019-8251
2013 (English)Conference paper, Abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This paper uses a strange and often forgotten historical episode -- the attempts to transplant Antarctic fauna to Norway and vice versa in the interwar years of last century -- as a way to examine conceptions of environmental flexibility and threat. The quest to introduce penguins to Norway (moving reindeer and possibly other species to the Antarctic) reflected an optimistic belief in the ability of Norwegians to turn even the harshest environments into sources of economic benefit. This belief articulated a more general view of the Antarctic as a space not for conservation, but for exploitation, grounded in the power of humans to beneficially tweak the environment. My principal case study is the ill-fated attempt to introduce penguins to Norway, led by the geologist and Arctic activist Adolf Hoel, who felt certain that penguin meat and penguin eggs could become viable commodities while the penguins flourished in northern Norway. Resistance to the venture came from both humans (who had no appetite for penguin products and regarded the animals as alien), and from the penguins themselves (who refused to conform to the lifestyles expected of them). The failure of the transplantation schemes demonstrated that Hoel’s dream was dashed by both cultural and biological factors, suggesting the value of broader approaches to understanding such incidents of environmental discord.

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URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-136284OAI: diva2:675702
The History of Technology and Science Days 2013, Umeå University, Sweden 20-22 March 2013

QC 20140318

Available from: 2013-12-04 Created: 2013-12-04 Last updated: 2014-03-18Bibliographically approved

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