Article ID: CBB481515902

Lothar Becker: A German Naturalist in Victoria, 1849–52, 1855–65 (2019)


Warning Readers of this article are warned that it may contain terms, descriptions and opinions that are culturally sensitive and/or offensive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. Lothar Becker (1825–1901?), an unpretentious Silesian naturalist, twice visited the colony of Victoria and published rich and original observations on its natural history and Indigenous people on his return to Germany. On his first visit, 1849 to 1852, Becker recorded his encounter with Black Thursday, a devastating bushfire, its aftermath, and the, by then, still relatively uncleared landscape. He also related his experiences living for a time with an Indigenous family in the Omeo district. After adding to his store of natural history observations on a second visit, 1855 to 1865, Becker tried to make money from writing articles on diverse Australian topics such as ant nests, the sequence and timing of flowering, the distribution of weeds, the natural history of fungi and the world history of tobacco, in all but the latter characterised by a remarkable proto-ecological approach. Becker’s publications have been overlooked by subsequent scientific researchers, in part because he wrote for the popular press, and because his language was German. The life and work of Lothar Becker is introduced here for the first time, and translations provided of six of his articles on Victorian natural history, botany, mycology, horticulture, and anthropology. Reflections on Becker’s contribution to anthropology and to mycology are published in two associated articles by Howes, and May and Darragh.

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Authors & Contributors
Allen, David Elliston
Moore, D. T.
Vallance, Thomas
Groves, E. W.
Dathe, Wilfried
González, Rosa María
Historical Records of Australian Science
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
Archives of Natural History
Intellectual History Review
History of the Human Sciences
Ashgate Publishing
Miegunyah Press
Joan Webb
A. Macqueen
Natural history
Travel; exploration
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Collectors and collecting
Becker, Lothar
Gundlach, Johann Christoph
Macquarie, Lachlan
Caley, George
D'arcy, Frederick Robert
Natterer, Johann
Great Britain
19th century
18th century
20th century
20th century, early
Adelaide Botanic Garden

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