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.
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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