Research Trajectory #5: The Natural History Collections of Bermuda

empire trees climate

Using Natural History Specimens in Interdisciplinary Research on Past Ecologies

Kirsten Greer

I am the Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Histories and Geographies and am interested in how we can use historical natural history specimens (e.g. birds, plants, rocks) as cultural artifacts to examine global environmental change from an interdisciplinary perspective. Over the last decade, there has been a growing body of work recognizing the value of historical natural history specimens as valuable sources of data in global environmental change. Many of these specimens date back to over 150 years ago, and provide insight into environmental change over time when examined with contemporary records.

However, as critical scholars have emphasized, such historical natural history materials reflect not just simple representations of reality but were entangled in systems of knowledge and power in varying places and times. For example, a number of natural history collections in British museums connect to…

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