Biodiversity and its Histories Exhibition

A public exhibition “Biodiversity and its Histories” has opened on Earth Day, April 22, 2017, and will last through May 19, 2017 at the Washington Heights Branch of the New York Public Library. The exhibition is designed and produced by students of Barnard College and Columbia University, led by History in Action Faculty Coordinator Professor Deborah Coen.

Biodiversity, a term introduced in the 1980s to facilitate dialogue at the conjunction of science, ethics, and law, has been notoriously hard to define. Central to the disciplines of conservation biology and environmental ethics, biodiversity operates as both fact and value in wider public debates about the preservation of species and habitats from human influence, exploitation, and destruction. However, the historical dimension of biodiversity has largely been neglected. While the exhibit can not hope to produce a comprehensive history, it hopes to do biodiversity justice by producing an appropriately many-faceted genealogy. The exhibit draws on what is already a rich body of historical research on ideas of hybridity and exchange, habitat and distribution, civilization and extinction from the eighteenth century onwards. It seeks to broaden and deepen this genealogy by charting the concepts of diversity that have underpinned scientific, philosophical, spiritual, aesthetic, and economic views of nature since antiquity and across the world.

On Thursday, April 27, 2017, from 4:00-5:00 pm, the participants will host a Q&A about the exhibit at the Washington Heights Branch of the New York Public Library.


Exhibition location:

Washington Heights Branch of the New York Public Library

1000 St. Nicholas Avenue

New York, New York

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