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Biodiversity and its Histories

When Mar 24, 2017 10:30 AM to
Mar 25, 2017 04:15 PM
Where Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT
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Deborah Coen (Barnard College, Columbia University)

Helen Anne Curry (University of Cambridge)

Paul White (University of Cambridge)



Formed at the intersection of biology, politics, and law, the concept of biodiversity has become one of the most crucial and complex terms in the environmental sciences, and operates as both fact and value in public debates about the preservation of species and habitats from human influence, exploitation, and destruction. Although the origins of the concept are well known, its relationship to other traditions and discourses is less well charted.

This conference will bring together scholars and researchers in ecology, politics, geography, anthropology, cultural history, and history and philosophy of science to explore how aesthetic, economic, and moral value came to be attached to the diversity of life on earth. We will draw on a rich body of research on hybridity and exchange, habitat and distribution, civilization and extinction from the eighteenth century onwards, bringing renewed attention to a powerful contemporary concept whose historical and disciplinary breadth has yet to be critically examined. This is especially important at a moment when political debates threaten to eliminate the rich valences and values attached to biological diversity by substituting instrumental calculations and impoverished notions such as ‘ecosystem services’.


Registration for the conference is now open. Fees are £50 (full fee) and £25 (student/unwaged). Fees include lunches and teas/coffees. Registration will close on Friday 10 March.

More information about this event…