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Die Amerikas: Forschungskolloquium zu den Amerikas aus kulturwissenschaftlicher Sicht

Am Donnerstag, den 1. Juni 2017 hält Prof. Elizabeth Hennessy einen Vortrag über "On the Backs of Tortoises: The Past and Future of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands."

01.06.2017 um 18:00 Uhr

Prof. Elizabeth Hennessy (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

On the Backs of Tortoises: The Past and Future of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands.

In nature documentaries and tourism propaganda, the Galápagos Islands are often called a “natural laboratory of evolution,” the place where Charles Darwin is said to have discovered his theory of natural selection. The laboratory metaphor paints the islands as an isolated reprieve from the modern world where unusual species, like the iconic giant tortoises and finches, evolved as they adapted to harsh conditions on these equatorial volcanoes. More than 200,000 tourists now come to see such creatures each year, but what many of these visitors do not realize is that this “laboratory” is also home to some 30,000 human residents, most of them Ecuadorian citizens but also European and American ex-pats who came in the decades surrounding the second world war. My work traces the political history of the “natural laboratory” metaphor to post-war efforts of international field biologists to establish a “national park for science” in which they could conserve and study evolution. In this talk, I examine what happened when they arrived in the islands in 1960 to build the Charles Darwin Research Station and create a “living laboratory” in a place that was then home to penal colonies, Ecuadorian homesteaders, and ex-pats in search of life in “Eden.” I argue that to make an “evolutionary Eden” biologists attempted to treat the islands as palimpsests, erasing as much as possible their social history. But paradoxically, this illusory task introduced an industry which, 50 years later, has generated repeated declarations of a crisis that challenges the future sustainability of life in the islands.


Wann?            Donnerstag, 1. Juni 2017, 18 -20 Uhr

Wo?                Oettingenstr. 67, Raum L155 (Obergeschoss)

Veranstalter:  Institut für Ethnologie Lageplan

Programm zu den kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschungen in den Amerikas unter der Leitung von Prof. Dr. Eveline Dürr für das Sommersemester 2017 hier zum Download (70 KB).

Mehr Informationen zu Vorträgen am Institut für Ethnologie im Sommersemester 2017 finden Sie unter „Veranstaltungen".

Sie können auch das Archiv mit den Veranstaltungen der vergangenen Jahre besuchen.