Article ID: CBB163742684

“The Disadvantages of a Defective Education”: Identity, Experiment and Persuasion in the Natural History of the Salmon and Parr Controversy, C. 1825–1850 (2019)


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.

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Authors & Contributors
Lightman, Bernard V.
Yuko Takigawa
Noah Morritt
Sterba, Thomas
Sherra Murphy
Liz Sevcenko
Spontaneous Generations
Archives of Natural History
Zhongguo Keji Shiliao (China Historical Materials of Science and Technology)
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Notes and Records: The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science
History of Science
University of Pittsburgh Press
Transaction Publishers
Johns Hopkins University Press
CSIRO Publishing
Cork University Press
Public understanding of science
Natural history
Authority of science
Science and society
Controversies and disputes
von Meidinger, Karl
Zheng, Guangzu
Ray, John
Owen, Richard
Lee, Sarah Bowdich
Kamin, Leon
Time Periods
19th century
20th century
21st century
20th century, early
18th century
20th century, late
Great Britain
Danube river
Dublin (Ireland)
United States
Dublin Natural History Museum
Royal Dublin Society
Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris
Institut de France, Paris
Great Britain. Royal Navy

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