On the Backs of Tortoises: The Past and Future of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Monday, February 5, 2018
212 University Club
Since Charles Darwin rode on the backs of the Galápagos giant tortoises in 1835, the animals have morphed from a favorite food of pirates and whalers to conservation icons protected in a place often called a “natural laboratory of evolution.” My book manuscript tells the tortoises’ story to show that attempts to restore the islands to their pristine state as a living museum to Darwin actually jeopardize their prized nature. Instead, it reimagines how to conserve the islands as a laboratory of co-evolution where biological, economic, and social histories enmesh humans and non-humans alike in the web of life.
Elizabeth Hennessy is Assistant Professor of World Environmental History in the History Department and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. She is part of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and serves as the faculty advisor for CHE’s graduate-student-run digital magazine, Edge Effects. She is also affiliated with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program (LACIS) and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. Trained as a geographer, she works at the intersection of political ecology, science and technologies studies, animal studies, and environmental history. Hennessy was formerly a fellow of the SSRC, ACLS, and Rachel Carson Center at LMU in Munich, Germany. Her first book will be published with Yale University Press in 2019.