In the course of her career, German ornithologist Emilie Snethlage (1868-1929), who worked in Brazil in the early twentieth century, was involved in all the steps that characterize the “production” of a specimen for scientific collection: from fieldwork, with the collection and preparation of materials, to their description and publication of results. Each of these stages mobilizes different material practices and sociability networks. During fieldwork or in her museum activities, the fact of being a woman demanded from Snethlage specific strategies for establishing her scientific legitimacy, analyzed in this article, especially her activities related to collecting practices.
In 1940, the naturalist Maria Corinta Ferreira decided to leave the zoology research centre of the board for colonial research (Junta de Investigaçoes Coloniais-JIC), where she felt gender discriminated as a scientist, and compete for the position of naturalist at the Museum Dr. Álvaro de Castro Museum (MAC) located in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Mozambique. By benefitting from the knowledge and the entomological collections of museums and scientific institutes in South Africa, for 25 years (1949-1974) she built up a scientific career as a researcher in entomology and achieved international recognition. As a woman, however, she never reached the upper positions in MAC’s hierarchy or in the Scientific Research Institute of Mozambique (IICM), the pretext being her formal academic credentials, notably the fact that she was given the title of Doctor on the basis of her published research, rather than upon completing a PhD.
Barbosa du Bocage and the production of scientific knowledge on Africa
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.