The Genealogy of the Zoo: Collection, Park and Carnival

Martin Parker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
203 Downloads (Pure)


The zoo, like all organizations, is constituted by processes of collection and separation. This article provides a genealogical account of the conditions of possibility of the modern zoological gardens, beginning with the cabinet of curiosities, then the landscape park and the menagerie, and finally the carnival and fair. This leads to a discussion of the foundation of the bourgeois zoo in the 19th century, and its mutation into its contemporary combination of spectacle and civilizing institution. I conclude with some reflections on the dialectic between order and disorder that the zoo exemplifies, an organization which is constructed to civilize and contain, but which is always haunted by the financial need for spectacle and the production of the wild non-human.
Original languageEnglish
Early online date13 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Mar 2020


  • carnival
  • collection
  • genealogy
  • panopticon
  • park
  • zoo


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