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From Charles Darwin to Lonesome George: Writing the New Animal History in the Galapagos Islands

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Nicola Foote is Associate Professor of Latin American and Caribbean History at Florida Gulf Coast University in the United States. She has a deep-rooted personal connection with the Institute for the Study of the Americas. She is an alumna of ISA, having received her MA in Latin American Studies from what was then the Institute for Latin American Studies with distinction in 2000. She is a past recipient of the Harold Blakemore Prize, named for a former director of the Institute. When she received her PhD in Latin American History from University College London in December 2004, current director Linda Newson served as her internal examiner. Nicola’s previous work has focused on the intersections of race, gender and national identity.

She has examined these ideologies in a range of geographical settings – primarily Ecuador, but also Costa Rica and the British Caribbean – and from a variety of analytical perspectives, using state formation, military conflict and immigration as windows to better understand concepts race, gender and nation. Her published works include the co-edited book (with René Harder Horst) Military Struggle and Identity Formation in Latin America: Race, Nation and Community During the Liberal Period (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2010), which was shortlisted for the Society for Military History best book prize; and The Caribbean History Reader (Routledge, 2012), a student-oriented text designed for classroom usage. Another edited volume,Immigration and National Identities in Latin America, with fellow ISA alum Michael Goebel, will be published shortly by University Press of Florida. She is also in the final stages of revising a monograph entitled Citizenship and Redemption: Race, Gender and Nation in Liberal Ecuador and has an edited volume on Civilians and Warfare in World History under review at Brill.

With her new project, Nicola is moving in a new direction and is broaching the history of Latin American science. Tonight’s paper is part of a broader book project entitledThe Galapagos Islands, Science and Modernity: State Formation and National Identity in Ecuador, 1830-Present which aims to reconstruct the human history of the Galapagos Islands, and to challenge dominant conceptions of the islands as “pristine” and “untouched” prior to the recent tourism boom.  While in London, Nicola will be examining the role of British scientists in charting the archipelago’s physical and natural characteristics and making it visible within the Ecuadorian nationalist imaginary; as well as the role of these scientists in the Galapagos conservation movement.