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Nature and the Environment in Nineteenth-Century Ireland$
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Matthew Kelly

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620320

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620320.001.0001

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Mainstream or Tributary? The Question of ‘Hibernian’ Fishes in William Thompson’s The Natural History of Ireland (1849–56)

Mainstream or Tributary? The Question of ‘Hibernian’ Fishes in William Thompson’s The Natural History of Ireland (1849–56)

Chapter:
(p.159) 8 Mainstream or Tributary? The Question of ‘Hibernian’ Fishes in William Thompson’s The Natural History of Ireland (1849–56)
Source:
Nature and the Environment in Nineteenth-Century Ireland
Author(s):

Mary Orr

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620320.003.0009

In providing the first evaluation of the contributions of William Thompson’s The Natural History of Ireland (1856) in the history of nineteenth-century ichthyology, this chapter concomitantly re-evaluates the status of ‘Ireland’ in the history of European natural history. By arguing that both Thompson and (nineteenth-century) Ireland merit a more centrally contributory rather than auxiliary positioning in knowledge of scientific endeavour, the chapter challenges the use by historians of allegedly a-temporal river metaphors: they are never culturally, scientifically or historically neutral. In demonstrating how Thompson’s work on Ireland re-centres nineteenth-century ichthyology – by comparison with the findings of Agassiz and the Histoire naturelle des poissons by Cuvier and Valenciennes – the chapter proposes that overly terrestrial and territorialized conceptions of natural history endeavour lose sight of more significantly fluid, and inter-connective, scientific and cultural understandings of the natural world.

Keywords:   ichthyology, Ireland, history of natural history, river terminology, William Thompson (1805-1852), Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), Histoire naturelle des poissons (1828-1848)

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