“The disadvantages of a defective education”: Identity, experiment and persuasion in the natural history of the salmon and parr controversy, c. 1825–1850

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Abstract / Description of output

During the second quarter of the nineteenth century, an argument raged about the identity of a small freshwater fish: was the parr a distinct species, or merely the young of the salmon? This “Parr Controversy” concerned both fishermen and ichthyologists. A central protagonist in the controversy was a man of ambiguous social and scientific status: a gamekeeper from Scotland named John Shaw. This paper examines Shaw’s heterogeneous practices and the reception of his claims by naturalists as he struggled to find a footing on the “gradient of attributed competence” (Rudwick 1985). The case demonstrates the context-specific nature of expert-lay boundaries and identities and explores a range of material and linguistic resources available for negotiating them. Arguing for a view of Shaw’s trajectory as simultaneously one of being a “practical man” and of becoming a naturalist, the paper explores both the permeability of social hierarchies in knowledge production and their effective role in the regulation of competency.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261–284
Number of pages24
JournalScience in Context
Volume32
Issue number3
Early online date12 Dec 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Salmon
  • natural history
  • controversy
  • status
  • identity
  • persuasion
  • species
  • ichthyology

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