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Seminari "La ciència i els seus públics"
Les abelles arriben al CEHIC: dues xerrades de Tania Munz del Max-Planck

Science and Politics: Karl von Frisch and the Honeybees in the Service of the Reich
Dilluns, 7 de juny, de 16 a 18 hrs. (CEHIC-UAB, Sala de reunió)

cehic 28/05/2010

In this talk, I examine the work of the experimental physiologist and bee researcher Karl von Frisch (1886-1982), who together with Niko Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz shared the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on animals. Von Frisch is best known today for having elucidated the "dances" by which bees communicate the distance and direction of food sources to their hive mates. The news of the bee dance language was received as an international sensation, as symbolic communication had long been considered the exclusive domain of humans. This talk will examine the personal, political, and economic circumstances under which this work took place – von Frisch performed much of the work with funding from the Nazi Ministry of Food and Agriculture during WWII, despite the fact that he was declared one-quarter Jewish by the regime. I show that not only humans but also the animals were drawn into the service of the Reich and were, as a consequence, altered in the process. In doing so, the talk contributes to scholarship on science and politics as well as animal studies.
Tania Munz is a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. She holds a PhD in the History of Science from Princeton University and works on the history of animal behavior studies. She is working on a book on the physiologist and Nobel Laureate Karl von Frisch, who is most famous for having elucidated the honeybee dance language. Her publications have been on the history of biology and animal behavior studies as well as on the uses of film in science.