Alison is a cultural historian of the United States with particular interests in the history of natural history, anthropology, paleontology, and the politics of display. Her dissertation research, which sits at the intersection of cultural history, material culture studies, and the animal turn, examines how megafauna fossils unearthed in the 19th and 20th centuries were transformed from natural resources into artifacts of cultural heritage. By interrogating paleontological field notes, museum exhibitions, legislative action, popular fiction, and press reports, she demonstrates that the young United States, while literally expanding across the North American continent and overseas, was simultaneously annexing deep time and incorporating the creatures of prehistory into a usable past. A close reading of these "American" fossils yields insight as to how certain Americans imagined and articulated a national past.
Alison received her B.A. in Classics from Brown University and her M.A. in History from the University of New Orleans.
animals on display; cultures of collecting; natural history; museums; material culture; American history; cultural history