Between the Laboratory and the Deep Blue Sea: Space Issues in the Marine Stations of Naples and Wimereux

Raf de Bont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In the 1870s, the life sciences witnessed the rise of a new site for scientific research: the marine station. This new workplace brought the laboratory of the biologist closer to the natural surroundings of the marine organisms that he/she was studying. It was therefore a site where the lab could be 'renaturalized'. In this paper, the extent of this 'renaturalization' is studied with regard to two stations. The first, Anton Dohrn's Stazione zoologica in Naples, was to become an international centre for laboratory research, while the second, Alfred Giard's marine station in Wimereux (France), turned out to be an important hub for field studies. Field-oriented animal life studies could be developed in Wimereux, whereas these were largely outshone by physiological and morphological research in Naples. I argue that differences in the physical and social organization of the two stations - or their 'ecologies' - accounted for the varying practices and types of knowledge found in Naples and Wimereux.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-227
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Alfred Giard
  • Anton Dohrn
  • field biology
  • geography of science

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