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Moore, T.M., 2023. An (un)natural history: tracing the magical rhinoceros horn in Egypt. Isis (History of Science Society) 114 (3): 469-489 -

Location: Africa - Northern Africa - Egypt
Subject: History
Species: African Rhino Species

Original text on this topic:
Can emancipatory, decolonial histories of science be extracted from objects collected from—or made visible to history by—the archives of colonialism? To answer this question, this essay presents the case study of a rhinoceros horn amulet (qarn al-khartit), an ethnographic object collected by the British anthropologist Winifred Blackman during her fieldwork in Egypt in the late 1920s. Markedly decentering the traditional colonial history of how the rhinoceros horn was collected and displayed as an object in European museums, the essay follows the trail of the rhinoceros horn back to the site of its collection in Egypt to reveal a strikingly different story: one of non-Western histories of science/magic/medicine, gender, race, and enslavement, all set against the backdrop of Egypt’s imperial pursuits in East Africa. The essay proposes the method of decolonial materialism to “read” objects, like the rhinoceros horn, as archives of scientific knowledge otherwise.

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