Internationalism in the Heart of Africa? The Albert National Park / Virunga National Park


  • Raf De Bont Maastricht University, Netherlands


The Albert National Park of the Belgian Congo—now the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—was founded in 1925. Its promoters were happy to present it as an open-air laboratory that would provide scientists from all over the world with a place to study “primitive” nature. While such a discourse was also often challenged, it did have a strong impact on the concrete ways in which the Park would be actually managed. This impact, one could argue, can still be felt today.

Author Biography

Raf De Bont, Maastricht University, Netherlands

Raf De Bont is a historian of science and the environment at Maastricht University. His research interests concern the history of scientific ecology and nature protection, the changing relation between laboratory and field biology as well as the cultural echoes of evolutionary theory. In 2015 he published Stations in the Field: A History of Place-Based Animal Research (The University of Chicago Press). More recently he co-edited, with Sokhieng Au and Kaat Wils, Bodies Beyond Borders: Moving Anatomies, 1750–1950 (Leuven University Press) and, with Jens Lachmund, Spatializing the History of Ecology: Sites, Journeys, Mappings (Routledge).