Monday, July 6, 2009
Dig the New Breed
One of the many interesting things to come out of the conference seemed to be a general agreement that the concept of the breed as we know it today didn't exist in the early-modern period. This is something that I briefly hinted at in my PhD thesis in 2001 so I feel vindicated there. I also remember Kerry Cathers exposing British native breeds as a myth in a paper on Anglo-Saxon horses (and someone in the audience getting extremely stroppy about it!). But now I'm wondering when and why the idea of the breed did emerge. Was the founding of breed societies somehow linked with eugenics and anxieties about racial purity? Did this depend on Darwin changing people's understanding of biology? The idea of pure bloodlines doesn't seem compatible with geohumouralism, for example. I expect Sandra might be able to tell us a lot about these things (if you can overcome your Luddite tendencies ;)). Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?