Expert at a distance

Barbosa du Bocage and the production of scientific knowledge on Africa

Catarina Madruga 1
  • 1 CIUHCT ‒ Centro Interuniversitário de História das Ciências e da Tecnologia, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016, Lisboa, Portugal


The career of José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage (1823‒1907) as director of the Zoological Section of the Museu Nacional de Lisboa (National Museum of Lisbon) followed by the presidency of the Society of Geography of Lisbon is presented in this paper as an example of transfer of expertise between scientific fields, specifically from zoology to geography. Additionally, it explores the connection between scientific credit and political recognition, in the sense of the conflation of Bocage’s taxonomical and zoogeographical work with the colonial agenda of his time. Although Bocage himself never visited Africa, he was part of a generation of Africanists who were members of the Portuguese elite dedicated to African matters and considered exemplary custodians of the political and diplomatic Portuguese international position regarding its African territories.

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