The Cabinet of Curiosities
Photo of artwork - 56.8 K
By David Watt
David's comments...
Second Section - First Pair of Drawers

Room to move? - 'I have much pleasure in sending you... some preparations...'

Isolation is often taken to be one of the major factors that inhibited the development of Australian science. Talented naturalists like George Bennett were forced into dependent relationships with British scientists because of their isolation from the scientific community - they could only participate by proxy. But isolation need not be dependent on geography or distance. Bennett's relationship with Richard Owen, exploitative though it was, did put him in close touch with the upper echelons of British science. Other scientists, working in closer, but less 'interesting' locations, may well have envied Bennett's access. Who was the more isolated?

And what of a scientist like Gerald Krefft, who challenged Owen and championed Darwinism in Australia? His 'isolation' from his Australian colleagues led to him being ousted from his post at the Australian Museum, yet his contacts with a number of eminent British scientists, including Darwin himself, remained intact. Isolation is something to be explored and understood in context, not merely assumed.

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Prepared by Tim Sherratt (
for publication on ASAPWeb. last modified 22 June 1997.