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Social Science Cultural

Articulating Dinosaurs

A Political Anthropology

by (author) Brian Noble

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Jul 2016
Cultural, Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures, Gender Studies, Paleontology, History
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2016
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  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jul 2016
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  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Aug 2016
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In this remarkable interdisciplinary study, anthropologist Brian Noble traces how dinosaurs and their natural worlds are articulated into being by the action of specimens and humans together. Following the complex exchanges of palaeontologists, museums specialists, film- and media-makers, science fiction writers, and their diverse publics, he witnesses how fossil remains are taken from their partial state and re-composed into astonishingly precise, animated presences within the modern world, with profound political consequences. 

Articulating Dinosaurs examines the resurrecting of two of the most iconic and gendered of dinosaurs.  First Noble traces the emergence of Tyrannosaurus rex (the “king of the tyrant lizards”) in the early twentieth-century scientific, literary, and filmic cross-currents associated with the American Museum of Natural History under the direction of palaeontologist and eugenicist Henry Fairfield Osborn.  Then he offers his detailed ethnographic study of the multi-media, model-making, curatorial, and laboratory preparation work behind the Royal Ontario Museum’s ground-breaking 1990s exhibit of Maiasaura (the “good mother lizard”).  Setting the exhibits at the AMNH and the ROM against each other, Noble is able to place the political natures of T. rex and Maiasaura into high relief and to raise vital questions about how our choices make a difference in what comes to count as “nature.”  An original and illuminating study of science, culture, and museums, Articulating Dinosaurs is a remarkable look at not just how we visualize the prehistoric past, but how we make it palpable in our everyday lives.

About the author

Brian Noble is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at Dalhousie University.

Brian Noble's profile page

Editorial Reviews

‘I found this volume engaging and provocative and look forward to my next paleontology museum visit.’

American Ethnologist vol 44:02:2017

"[This book] addresses readerships from different fields and is itself informed by a variety of theoretical positions ranging from social anthropology and gender theory to actor network theory, as well as science and technology studies, museum studies, and cultural studies."

Isis, vol 109:4

‘It’s about time such inventiveness was studied so seriously!... Highly recommended. All levels/libraries’

Choice Magazine vol 54:07:2017

‘This book provides an immensity of intimate detail that will be of significant value to scholars of museum studies.’

Museum and Society vol 15:02:2017