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Species and spectacle

Espèce et spectacle

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Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2017


This workshop is organized by Felicia McCarren (Paris IAS fellow / Tulane University), Elizabeth Claire (CNRS) and Silvia Sebastiani (EHESS), with the support of the Paris IAS, CRH, CRAL, Centre Alexandre Koyré, EHESS and CNRS.



This workshop is driven by the overlap of scientific practices of observation, classification, and exhibition with spectacular modes of performance in European and colonial contexts.
By “species” we refer to the apprehension of diversity in the animal and plant world, in parallel with the development of biology.

By “spectacle” we refer to the stage as a mise-en-scène of contemporary medical, industrial, technological and philosophical understandings of bodily production and signification, but also more broadly to the concept of performance: for example, the spectacularization of exotic animals and plants, of exotic peoples, of science as spectacle.

In a context of the projection of natural types onto humans, the invention of social stereotypes identified as physiologies collides with national, ethnic and gendered parameters, to produce medical and social repercussions on the body politic. By exploring the historical notions of cultural contagion, categorization, consumption, degeneration, amalgamation and mimesis, hybridization and ecology, among other concepts, we intend to explore these parallel and connected historical performances in their elaboration of the “nature” of the human condition. By focusing on the notion of spectacle or performance, we open up the question of the commodification of the exotic, and enable an investigation of how performing bodies rehearsed, commented upon and resisted scientific categorization and mastery.


Morning: Of Fauna

  • 9:00-9:15 Introduction by way of a ‘Footnote’ on Dancing Monkeys, Elizabeth Claire (CNRS, CRH/CRAL)
  • 9:15-10:00 Viscera on stage: performing human and animal anatomy in early modern western Europe, Rafael Mandressi (CNRS, CAK)
  • 10:00-10:45 Théâtres du vivant / Life on stage, XVIe-XVIIe siècles, Frédérique Aït-Touati (CNRS, CRAL)
  • 10:45-11:15 Coffee Break
  • 11:15-12:00 'The greatest Curiosity in the known world': Madame Chimpanzee in London Coffee Houses (1730s), Silvia Sebastiani (EHESS, CRH)
  • 12:00-12:45 'Everything that one sees or hears in this place is perfectly romantick': The Sensory Spectacle of Pacific Colonisation, c.1690-1790, Bruce Buchan (Invited Professor EHESS, School of Humanities, Griffith University)

12:45-14:00 Lunch Break

Afternoon: Of Fauna and Flora

  • 14:00-14:45 Bodies on display: ethnoexhibitions, dehumanization and anthropological voyeurism (19th-21st century), Guido Abbattista (Invited Professor EHESS, Università di Trieste)
  • 14:45-15:30 Danses tordues : Latifa Laâbissi et stratégies de survie kinesthésiques, Isabelle Launay (Univ. Paris 8)
  • 15:30-16:15 Jeux phyto-érotiques et satyricon végétal : la flore et la forme (16e et 17e siècle), Dominique Brancher (Universität Basel)
  • 16:15-16:30 Coffee Break
  • 16:30-17:15 - Titre à confirmer -Emanuele Coccia (EHESS, CRAL-CEHTA)
  • 17:15-18:00 Planting Dance: ‘La Source’ (1866) Felicia McCarren (IEA-Paris, Tulane University New Orleans)
  • 18:00-18:45 Discussants Antonella Romano (Directrice, Centre A. Koyré), Sylvie Steinberg (EHESS, CRH)
  • 18:45-19:30 Cocktail


  • Institut d'études avancées de Paris, Hôtel de Lauzun - 17 quai d'Anjou
    Paris, France (75004)


  • Wednesday, March 22, 2017


  • espèce, spectacle, species, biology, animal, vegetal, performance, identity, gender


  • IEA Information
    courriel : information [at] paris-iea [dot] fr

Information source

  • Élodie Saubatte
    courriel : elodie [dot] saubatte [at] paris-iea [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

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« Species and spectacle », Study days, Calenda, Published on Wednesday, February 22, 2017,

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