Colonialism in Natural History

  1. Londa Schiebinger argues that creating the taxonomic category Mammalia was a political act. According to Schiebinger, what was Linnaeus’ political motivation for framing mammals in this way? How did this scientific category naturalize hierarchical understandings of sex and gender? (read Upload files name 1)
  2. Museum curators Subhadra Das and Miranda Lowe pose the following question: “how are natural history museums (i.e. cultural institutions which hold, curate, and interpret collections of plant, animal, and human remains, and geological specimens and fossils) implicated in perpetuating racism?” What is their answer? What would a decolonial approach to interpreting natural history collections look like? Cite specific examples from the text in each of your answers. (read Upload files name 2)

3 If you were to visit the Grant Museum of Zoology at University College London right now, you’d find an exhibition called “Displays of Power: A Natural History of Empire.” Please watch this short film about the exhibit, “Untold Narratives: Colonialism in Natural History,” and discuss two pieces in the collection that stood out to you. How do these pieces illustrate the relationship between natural history, science, and empire?…

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