Articulating Dinosaurs: A Political Anthropology

By Brian Noble

© 2016

In this remarkable interdisciplinary study, anthropologist Brian Noble traces how dinosaurs and their natural worlds are articulated into being by the action of specimens and humans together. Following the complex exchanges of palaeontologists, museums specialists, film- and media-makers, science fiction writers, and their diverse publics, he witnesses how fossil remains are taken from their partial state and re-composed into astonishingly precise, animated presences within the modern world, with profound political consequences. 

Articulating Dinosaurs examines the resurrecting of two of the most iconic and gendered of dinosaurs.  First Noble traces the emergence of Tyrannosaurus rex (the “king of the tyrant lizards”) in the early twentieth-century scientific, literary, and filmic cross-currents associated with the American Museum of Natural History under the direction of palaeontologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn.  Then he offers his detailed ethnographic study of the multi-media, model-making, curatorial, and laboratory preparation work behind the Royal Ontario Museum’s ground-breaking 1990s exhibit of Maiasaura (the “good mother lizard”).  Setting the exhibits at the AMNH and the ROM against each other, Noble is able to place the political natures of T. rex and Maiasaura into high relief and to raise vital questions about how our choices make a difference in what comes to count as “nature.”  An original and illuminating study of science, culture, and museums, Articulating Dinosaurs is a remarkable look at not just how we visualize the prehistoric past, but how we make it palpable in our everyday lives.

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Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 512 pages
  • Illustrations: 51
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.1in x 9.0in
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  • PUBLISHED JUL 2016

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    ISBN 9781442627055
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Quick Overview

An original and illuminating study of science, culture, and museums, Articulating Dinosaurs is a remarkable look at not just how we visualize the prehistoric past, but how we make it palpable it our everyday lives.

Articulating Dinosaurs: A Political Anthropology

By Brian Noble

© 2016

In this remarkable interdisciplinary study, anthropologist Brian Noble traces how dinosaurs and their natural worlds are articulated into being by the action of specimens and humans together. Following the complex exchanges of palaeontologists, museums specialists, film- and media-makers, science fiction writers, and their diverse publics, he witnesses how fossil remains are taken from their partial state and re-composed into astonishingly precise, animated presences within the modern world, with profound political consequences. 

Articulating Dinosaurs examines the resurrecting of two of the most iconic and gendered of dinosaurs.  First Noble traces the emergence of Tyrannosaurus rex (the “king of the tyrant lizards”) in the early twentieth-century scientific, literary, and filmic cross-currents associated with the American Museum of Natural History under the direction of palaeontologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn.  Then he offers his detailed ethnographic study of the multi-media, model-making, curatorial, and laboratory preparation work behind the Royal Ontario Museum’s ground-breaking 1990s exhibit of Maiasaura (the “good mother lizard”).  Setting the exhibits at the AMNH and the ROM against each other, Noble is able to place the political natures of T. rex and Maiasaura into high relief and to raise vital questions about how our choices make a difference in what comes to count as “nature.”  An original and illuminating study of science, culture, and museums, Articulating Dinosaurs is a remarkable look at not just how we visualize the prehistoric past, but how we make it palpable in our everyday lives.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 512 pages
  • Illustrations: 51
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.1in x 9.0in
  • Reviews

    ‘It’s about time such inventiveness was studied so seriously!... Highly recommended. All levels/libraries’


    A.F. Roberts
    Choice Magazine vol 54:07:2017

    ‘This book provides an immensity of intimate detail that will be of significant value to scholars of museum studies.’


    Richard Fallon
    Museum and Society vol 15:02:2017

    ‘I found this volume engaging and provocative and look forward to my next paleontology museum visit.’


    Robert L. Anemone
    American Ethnologist vol 44:02:2017

    "[This book] addresses readerships from different fields and is itself informed by a variety of theoretical positions ranging from social anthropology and gender theory to actor network theory, as well as science and technology studies, museum studies, and cultural studies."


    Mereike Vennen, Technical University of Berlin
    Isis, vol 109:4

    "Noble’s ground-breaking, beautifully written work can be compared with Donna Haraway’s Primate Visions. The quality of the weaving together of a remarkable scholarship, a captivating field inquiry, and a bundle of rich, passionate stories demonstrates a very serious advance in state-of-the-art research. "


    Isabelle Stengers, Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, Université libre de Bruxelles
  • Author Information

    Brian Noble is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University.
  • Table of contents

    1 / Can there Really be an Anthropology of Dinosaurs?

    Part One / Animating the Tyrant Kingdoms
    2 / Materializing Mesozoic Time/Space
    3 / Land of the Fear, Home of the Bravado
    4 / Animating Tyrannosaurus rex, Modelling the Perfect Race
    5 / Politics/Natures: All the Way Down
    6/ Vestiges of the Lost World: Recirculating the Tyrant Nexus
    7 / Phantasmatics in the Systematics of Life

    Part Two / Articulating the Good Mother Lizard
    8 / Articulating Maiasaura peeblesorum
    9 / “A Real Sense of a Dynamic Process”
    10 / A Really Big Jurassic Place
    11 / Need to Say, Need to Know
    12 / The Difference a Lab can Make
    13 / A Perfect Time for Raising a Family
    14 / Technotheatrical Natures
    15 / Mirabile dictu!
    16 / “Just Trying to Be a Scientist”

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