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    Captives of classification: unlocking the representations of animals from the Daily Occurences, library, and cages of London Zoo

    Christien, Lee (2021) Captives of classification: unlocking the representations of animals from the Daily Occurences, library, and cages of London Zoo. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Housed in a former monkey enclosure, the colonial archive of London Zoo is home to a series of recherché pro formas known as the Daily Occurrences of the Zoological Gardens of London(1828–2002). These institutional diaries are the keys that my interdisciplinary research uses to unlock debates about the exhibition, framing, and representation of captive animals. Now collecting dust on neglected shelves, these quotidian documents once helped facilitate the central practices of the zoo, recording animal arrivals and departures, animal births and deaths, sales and exchanges, visitor numbers, zoological work, and finances on a daily basis. This thesis argues that these working documents provide an alternative history of the zoo because they tell us how animals were practically written about and perceived by the institution that framed them. What is discovered is that exemplary classifications at London Zoo were undermined in a number of ways, including: the spread of an infectious virus originating amongst exotic animals, deposited by Lord Moyne, where staff members at the zoo became the subjects of medical discourse; the physical disassemblage of an elephant sold to the Crystal Palace Company for display which speaks to the extractive processes of imperial economics; and, the aftermath of the murder of a migrant worker in the enclosure for tapirs, recorded in the staff absent section, which leads to a series of legal and medical pro formas that contain a complex history of carceral and clinical practices. These archival recuperations speak to the complex relationships that existed between humans and animals in this nineteenth-century imperial institution. Unidentified stains are smudged across the pro forma pages, and muck is encrusted onto the paper surfaces of this compilation of fur and flesh, allowing us to peer behind the structures that framed animals as living monuments. This thesis argues that an interdisciplinary approach to London Zoo contributes to wider histories of classification and its impact on how animals and humans have been written about in, and beyond, literature.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2021 11:00
    Last Modified: 23 Sep 2021 11:29


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