Lukas Rieppel

(Photo courtesy of Martin Giraudeau)

I am a historian of the life, earth, and environmental sciences, as well as the history of museums, focusing on 19th and early 20th century North America. With a technical background in molecular evolution and ecology, my research explores how large-scale social institutions like capitalism and imperialism shape our knowledge about the earth and its many inhabitants.


My first book -- Assembling the Dinosaur: Fossil Hunters, Tycoons, and the Making of a Spectacle -- uses the history of dinosaurs as a means to examine how the ideals, norms, and practices of modern capitalism shaped the way scientific knowledge was made, certified, and distributed during America's Long Gilded Age. I also co-edited the 2018  issue of Osiris (with Eugenia Lean & William Deringer) on the theme of "Science & Capitalism: Entangled Histories."


I am currently working on a number of projects. These range from the role played by the earth sciences in the history of North American imperialism and Indigenous dispossession to the global history of the earth. I am also interested in how the concept of organization traveled between biology and political economy.


Finally, I have written several essays about the material culture of the earth sciences, the history of museums, the organization of a capitalist marketplace, the valuation of fossils, and the authentication of specimens. You can find pdfs of these in the publications page of this site.