Vanished: Imagining Extinction

Event date
Event time
19:00 - 20:00
Oxford University Museum of Natural History
Parks Road
Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required

This whistle-stop tour traces the emergence of new ideas about extinction in the French Revolution to the present day, exploring their legacy on our understanding of race and empire.

We are so familiar with extinction that it is hard to imagine a world where nothing was believed to be extinct. Yet the science of extinction is modern. Up until the 18th century, well-known losses, such as the Mauritian dodo, were attributed to human actions. In the later 18th century, George Cuvier argued that fossilized elephantine beasts such as the Mastodon were a different species to their living relatives. This research helped establish the notion that extinction was widespread in Earth’s history and gave rise to fears that animals, colonised peoples, and cultures were all on the verge of extinction.

This lecture will explore the lasting legacies of this conceptual shift on present-day movements like Extinction Rebellion, and consider how these ideas about extinction have impacted histories of race, science, and empire.

This event is free, but please book your tickets in advance.

About the speaker:
Sadiah Qureshi is an historian of racism, science and empire. Her first book, Peoples on Parade (2011), explored the importance of displayed peoples for the emergence of anthropology. She is currently writing her next book, provisionally entitled Vanished: Episodes in the History of Extinction, for Allen Lane, supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship. During Trinity term, she is a Visiting Fellow at the Bodleian Library.