Monica Vasile

Reintroducing endangered species: human-animal histories in the 20th century

Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University,

Supervisors: Prof. Raf de Bont and prof. Cyrus Mody


Monica holds a doctorate in Sociology from University of Bucharest (awarded 2008), an MA in Anthropology and Community Development from University of Bucharest (awarded 2004), and held research positions at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich and the Max Planck Institute of Social Anthropology in Halle.

Summary PhD project

Monica’s research examines the history of reintroductions of endangered species from the second half of the 20th century, providing new insights in human-wildlife relations aimed at undoing imminent extinction. Through researching four in-depth case-studies, diverse across species and geographical areas (Przewalski’s horse, lemurs, thick-billed parrots and takahe), the project explores how reintroductions emerged and became mainstream conservation practice, and how they developed. Broadly, the project looks at how the growth of reintroductions required and managed an unprecedented movement of animals across borders, which grew entangled with an increasingly globalized network of conservationists and institutions, as well as technological and scientific developments. The approach aims to integrate animals’ biographies with a history of science and conservation. Specifically, it looks into the actual practices of reintroductions management; the knowledge about animals, i.e. the production of science; the framing and representations of achievements and interventions; as well as the relations between conservationists and the animals.