The politics of participation: Francis Galton's Anthropometric laboratory and the making of civic selves
2013 (English)In: British Journal for the History of Science, ISSN 0007-0874, E-ISSN 1474-001X, Vol. 46, no 3, 445-466 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Historians have given much attention to museums and exhibitions as sites for the production and communication of knowledge in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But few studies have analysed how the activity and participation of visitors was designed and promoted at such locations. Using Francis Galton's Anthropometric Laboratory at the International Health Exhibition in London 1884 as the empirical focal point, this paper explores a new mode of involving exhibition audiences in the late nineteenth century. Its particular form of address is characterized by an ambition to transform the visitors' self-understanding by engaging them with various techniques of scientific observation and representation of social issues. By analysing the didactics of this particular project, I argue that the observational ideal of 'mechanical objectivity' and associated modes of representation in this instance became an integrated part of a political vision of self-observation and self-reformation. Thus the exhibit and related projects by Galton not only underpinned a theoretical lesson, but also were part of an effort to extend a complex set of practices among the general public.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 46, no 3, 445-466 p.
Research subject History of Sciences and Ideas
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-149615DOI: 10.1017/S0007087411000859ISI: 000324602600004OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-149615DiVA: diva2:405171