This academic year, several of my colleagues and I who serve on the UChicago Ecology and Evolution Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Committee organized an informal reading group on the history and legacy of colonialism in ecology. The goal of our reading group was to explore and understand how the historical context of the 18th and 19th centuries shaped the field of ecology, and how it has influenced its current practice. Over five sessions, we discussed four central themes: (1) the history of colonialism in tropical ecology, (2) western conservation and land grabs, (3) colonization and paradigms of knowledge, and (4) parachute science. We guided our discussion using Megan Raby’s book American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science and complemented it with several papers covering specific topics. We hosted the journal club on Zoom and welcomed participants from University of Chicago's Ecology and Evolution Department and the Chicago Field Museum. We would love for these materials to be of use for other groups wanting to explore these themes, so please visit these links to our syllabus that also contains suggested discussion questions and to the reading material.
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