American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science

American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science

by Megan Raby

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Overview

Biodiversity has been a key concept in international conservation since the 1980s, yet historians have paid little attention to its origins. Uncovering its roots in tropical fieldwork and the southward expansion of U.S. empire at the turn of the twentieth century, Megan Raby details how ecologists took advantage of growing U.S. landholdings in the circum-Caribbean by establishing permanent field stations for long-term, basic tropical research. From these outposts of U.S. science, a growing community of American "tropical biologists" developed both the key scientific concepts and the values embedded in the modern discourse of biodiversity.

Considering U.S. biological fieldwork from the era of the Spanish-American War through the anticolonial movements of the 1960s and 1970s, this study combines the history of science, environmental history, and the history of U.S.–Caribbean and Latin American relations. In doing so, Raby sheds new light on the origins of contemporary scientific and environmentalist thought and brings to the forefront a surprisingly neglected history of twentieth-century U.S. science and empire.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469635613
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 10/03/2017
Series: Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
File size: 31 MB
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About the Author

Megan Raby is associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin.

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From the Publisher

Blending intellectual, institutional, social, environmental, and political history, Raby reveals that the now-abstract, theoretical concept of 'biodiversity' was rooted in the ideas and ambitions of several generations of U.S. biologists. Built on a truly impressive archival foundation, this study offers a rich, nuanced understanding of the personal and institutional relations that drove this scientific work.—Stuart McCook, University of Guelph

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