Signe Mellemgaard

Signe Mellemgaard

Associate Professor

Primary fields of research

My current research revolves around different aspects of the relationship between humans and nature.  Presently, I am preparing a manuscript (to come out on Gads Forlag, 2024) on natural history in Denmark-Norway c. 1770-1820 with special reference to relations between views of and experiences of nature, and between the worship and the domination of Nature. I pay special attention to natural history practices with different people (scientists, collectors, fieldworkers, salon hostesses, agricultural reformers, clergy naturalists, reading peasants) and different settings (natural history collections, botanical fieldwork, the politic of schooling etc).

As of 2022, I am involved as a co-investigator on the project "Field/Work in the Archive - Herbaria as Sites of Cultural Exchange", led by Dr. M. Fleming and supported by Augustinusfonden. This project takes its starting point in the huge herbarium of Statens Naturhistoriske Museum and investigates herbaria as sites for cultural exchanges, both historically and presently. Herbaria and the individual specimens each have a history, with roots in a colonial context of economic botany, but also (re)interpreted (re)determined, transported, and transformed. The project examined this complex history with a focus on the herbarium as a contact zone between diverse communities of practice.

From summer 2023 onwards I am also engaged in a project on the relations between forms of ownership and transformations in agriculture towards sustainability - in both present and historical contexts. How does private ownership, co-operatives, capital funds, and state ownership allow for changes in cultivation? 

Fields of interest

Sustainable agriculture. Forms of ownership in agriculture – past and present. Natural history and views of nature. History of science in an ethnological perspective. The museology of natural history, botany in the transformation of Danish agriculture 18C-20C. Cultural theory, cultural history, methodological problems in Ethnology, everyday life, and historical micro perspectives. The cultural history of natural history in Denmark-Norway c. 17l80-1810, views of nature.

Selected publications

  1. Published

    Kroppens natur. Sundhedsoplysning og naturidealer i 250 år

    Mellemgaard, Signe, 1998, København: Museum Tusculanum.

    Research output: Book/ReportBookResearch

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