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, 51 (2), 239-260

A Cabinet of the Ordinary: Domesticating Veterinary Education, 1766-1799


A Cabinet of the Ordinary: Domesticating Veterinary Education, 1766-1799

Kit Heintzman. Br J Hist Sci.


In the late eighteenth century, the Ecole vétérinaire d'Alfort was renowned for its innovative veterinary education and for having one of the largest natural history and anatomy collections in France. Yet aside from a recent interest in the works of one particular anatomist, the school's history has been mostly ignored. I examine here the fame of the school in eighteenth-century travel literature, the historic connection between veterinary science and natural history, and the relationship between the school's hospital and its esteemed cabinet. Using the correspondence papers of veterinary administrators, state representatives and competing scientific institutions during the French Revolution, I argue that resource constraints and the management of anatomical and natural history specimens produced new disciplinary boundaries between natural history, veterinary medicine and human medicine, while reinforcing geographic divisions between the local and the foreign in the study of non-human animals. This paper reconstructs the Ancien Régime reasoning that veterinary students would benefit from a global perspective on animality, and the Revolutionary government's rejection of that premise. Under republicanism, veterinary medicine became domestic.

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