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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


Principal Investigator: Daniel Margocsy

Colonial Natures examines the complex historical relationship between two crucial phenomena that shape 21st-century societies: the long-term and continuing impact of European colonisation on societies across the globe from 1492 onwards and environmental transformation and human-made climate change across the planet. The aim is to understand how encounters amongst a variety of communities in the colonial world produced knowledge about the natural world that would then be used to transform the environment. It is funded by the HSS Research Framework at Cambridge.

The Colonial Natures project has been organising several workshops that provide hands-on study and discussion of specimens and collections across the museums, libraries and colleges of Cambridge. These workshops ensure that there is a regular and continuing opportunity for interaction between colleagues across a variety of disciplinary fields.

The next events for Colonial Natures are The Challenge of Conservation conference on 11–12 June 2024, and a workshop at the Cambridge University Library on 13 June.

Image: Jan Brandes, Pilot Fish and Ships, 1778, Rijksmuseum