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Landscapes of Whiteness: Visions of Nature from the 1830s – 1930s

August 19, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm EDT

Join us to unravel the long history of environmentalism, colonialism, and race.

Landscapes of Whiteness: Colonialism, Exclusion, and Visions of Nature from the 1830s – 1930s

Thursday, August 19, 7:00 – 8:30pm

Presented by Elaine Ayers, PhD, faculty member, Program in Museum Studies at NYU

What does moss collecting have to do with the expansion of plantation agriculture? How did the founding of Yellowstone National Park contribute to theories of racial extermination and degeneration? How have museums, botanical gardens, and other cultural institutions facilitated in racial subjugation since their foundings? Ranging from early-nineteenth century theories of acclimatization to the early-twentieth century eugenic environmental movement, naturalists have drawn connections between nature and which bodies figure as “natural.” Rooted in colonial violence and systematic exclusion, many of the fields we consider valuable today—including biogeographical mapping and the American National Parks System—worked hand-in-hand with specious ideas about race, standardization, and perceived progress. Unraveling the long history of environmentalism, colonialism, and race, this talk will discuss the complexities of conservation and the continued inequities that continue to plague natural history.

Free of charge; registration is required. This lecture will be held virtually. A link and viewing instructions will be emailed after your registration is complete.

Image Credit: Plate VI, ill. E.W. Mark, in Hooker’s Journal of Botany and Kew Garden Miscellany, vol. 1 (1849). Courtesy of the Linda Hall Library.