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A Space of One’s Own: Barbosa du Bocage, the Foundation of the National Museum of Lisbon, and the Construction of a Career in Zoology (1851–1907)

Gamito-Marques, Daniel
Journal of the history of biology 2018 v.51 no.2 pp. 223-257
coasts, engineers, fauna, zoologists, zoology, Portugal
This paper discusses the life and scientific work of José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage (1823–1907), a nineteenth-century Portuguese naturalist who carved a new place for zoological research in Portugal and built up a prestigious scientific career by securing appropriate physical and institutional spaces to the discipline. Although he was appointed professor of zoology at the Lisbon Polytechnic School, an institution mainly devoted to the preparatory training of military officers and engineers, he succeeded in creating the conditions that allowed him to develop consistent research in zoology at this institution. Taking advantage of the reconstruction and further improvement of the building of the Lisbon Polytechnic, following a violent fire in 1843, Bocage transferred a natural history museum formerly located at the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon to his institution, where he conquered a more prestigious place for zoology. Although successive governments were unwilling to meet Bocage’s ambitions for the Zoological Section of the newly created National Museum of Lisbon, the collaborators he found in different parts of the Portuguese continental territory and colonial empire supplied him the specimens he needed to make a career as a naturalist. Bocage ultimately became a renowned specialist in Southwestern African fauna thanks to José de Anchieta, his finest collaborator. Travels to foreign museums, and the establishment of links with the international community of zoologists, proved fundamental to build up Bocage’s national and international scientific reputation, as it will be exemplified by the discussion of his discovery of Hyalonema, a specimen with a controversial identity collected off the Portuguese coast.