Past Event

Nuala Caomhanach - Ambassadors and Surrogates: Conserving Evolutionary Time in International Biodiversity Conservation Policy

October 1, 2021
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
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Event Description 

By the 1990s, phylogeneticists---evolutionary biologists who reconstruct the Tree of Life---argued that the rapid increase of environmental destruction in the crisis of climate change made phylogenetics better suited than ecology to curate the natural world. In doing so, they argue that their methodology will save the planet's key process for life on Earth, biological evolution. With the 2007 launch of the Zoological Society of London’s EDGE of Existence global conservation initiative, phylogeneticists have asserted their cultural and scientific authority over conversation policy. This shift in conservation methodology away from ecological models to elevate some species as more deserving for preservation is analogous to a scientific Noah’s Ark. The paper argues that the debate over curating evolution is implicitly a debate over biological time that reflects a set of ideological choices emerging from Euro-American visions of nature (particularly zoological), modernity, and sovereignty. For this paper, Nuala Caomhanach will examine how phylogeneticists construct biological time as they reconstruct the evolutionary history on the Tree of Life, and how phylogenetic diversity became the metric for conservation policy. 

The history of science workshop provides historians of science in the New York City area with a collegial, informal environment to share works-in-progress. Presenters circulate a paper a week in advance and discuss it with workshop attendees.

Event Speaker

Nuala Caomhanach, Graduate Student in History at New York University

Event Information

This event is free and open to the public. To register and receive a copy of a paper, please email Sean O'Neil at [email protected].

This event is part of the New York History of Science Lecture Series.

Sponsoring Organizations:

  • The University Seminars at Columbia University
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study
  • The Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • The New York Academy of Medicine
  • The New York Academy of Sciences

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