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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

David Livingstone: Darwin's Geographies

3rd May 2007, 17:15 to 18:45, Debating Chamber, Palace Green

Professor David Livingstone, Queen's University, Belfast

Part of the 'Darwinian Legacy: Earth, Life and Mind' Seminar Series

Darwin and Darwinism interact with Geography in interesting and significant ways. Here I intend to explore three dimensions of the relationship. We turn, first, to the role of Geography in Darwinism, reflecting both on Darwin’s geographical imagination and the significance of location, site and space in the development of his thinking. Second, the place of Darwinism in geographical scholarship will attract our attention. We focus on some of the ways in which Darwinian, and non-Darwinian, evolutionary visions have shaped geographical scholarship. Thirdly, and most substantially, we consider the Geography of Darwinism. The idea here is that Darwinism itself is a geographical phenomenon that has spread across the world. My quarry is the different ways in which the theory was received – sometimes welcomed, sometimes rejected – in different locations. By arguing for the fundamental importance of local circumstances in conditioning how evolution was read in different sites, I hope to demonstrate how the meaning of Darwinian theory was differently negotiated in different spaces. These three cuts at ‘Darwin’s Geographies’ will, I hope, establish just how crucial geographical matters are in understanding the Darwinian Legacy.

David N. Livingstone is Professor of Geography at the Queen’s University of Belfast. He is the author of Nathaniel Southgate Shaler and the Culture of American Science (1989), Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders (1989), The Geographical Tradition (1992), and Putting Science in its Place (2003). He is currently completing a book on race, religion and the politics of human origins.

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