In Latin American natural history, the achievements of outsiders often eclipse homegrown science and study. Prussian explorer Alexander von Humboldt, with his late-18th to early-19th century South American expeditions, was followed by a string of expeditions from Europe and later the United States, but Latin American naturalists have had a major, if overlooked, impact on the understanding of biodiversity in their own countries. Latino Natural History, a digital exhibition launched this month, spotlights their contributions.
“There’s plenty of information on Latin American natural history, but a lot of the readily available accounts are from the point of view of outside explorers,” Adriana Marroquin, Biodiversity Heritage Library digital exhibits coordinator and creator of the exhibition, told Hyperallergic. “Along the same line, there are many Latino and Latina scientists who have contributed greatly to the study of natural history, but for a variety of reasons (political turmoil, lack of financial support, selective history, etc.) their work has been overshadowed by those outside point of views.”
The online resource was supported — along with an Early Women in Science exhibition — through a grant from the Smithsonian Women’s Committee to the Smithsonian Libraries. Using the exhibition platform of the Biodiversity Library, which is a consortium of open access collections from natural history and botanical libraries, Latino Natural History is a compact portal into the work of naturalists both obscure and familiar. There are the celebrated bird paintings of Puerto Rican-American Louis Agassiz Fuertes (1874–1927), as well as more recent work that’s still gaining attention, like that of the Argentinian agrostologist Cleofe Calderon, who passed away in 2007 and whose studies of bamboo had a major impact on the understanding of the evolution of grass. Each person gets a page in the exhibition, from Carlos de la Torre y Huerta of Cuba, with his early-20th century mollusk studies, to Eduardo Caballero y Caballero of Mexico, a leader in mid-20th century helminthology, the study of parasitic worms. Images on their respective pages lead to archives of their digitized, high-resolution works.
“It’s easy to leave out this part of the story, and it really shouldn’t be, especially since all the naturalists featured in the exhibition were part of the larger scientific communities of Latin America, Europe, and the United States,” Marroquin added. “This exhibit is by no means comprehensive, but we hope to bring to light the important contributions of Latinos and Latinas to the study of the natural sciences.”
h/t Slate Vault
The exhibition Latino Natural History is accessible online at the Biodiversity Heritage Library.
As much as I appreciate the collective’s culture jamming initiatives, I don’t know that their putative premise ever bears meaningful fruit.
The banana’s dominance and ubiquity has had serious and far-reaching implications for the region, engendering exploitative labor systems, climate change, and migration.
The first lecture is on the relationship between early portrait photography and diverse notions of US identity during the Gilded Age. Register to attend on January 25.
Charles Dellheim’s study tells the tale of a small group of Jewish art dealers and collectors who played a key role in the changing art world of the 19th and 20th centuries.
The 18-month fellowship aims to provide artists with “as much access as possible” to the club’s facilities and networks “at a time and place convenient to artists.”
Part of the university’s Artists on the Future series pairing renowned artists with cultural thought leaders, this online event is free and open to the public.
A coalition of investors raised funds to purchase the film’s storyboard and announced they would “make the book public.”
A new project, “Emoji to Scale,” orders every mini-object by their real-world dimensions.
Although Khedoori does not depict living beings, their presence is evoked in the traces they leave behind.
The Bronx Museum’s fifth biennial continues to focus its programming on individual identity, eliding the ever-divergent interests of the art market and local communities.
While it may be strange to think of food insecurity as a basis for art, the works in Food Justice reveal barriers and injustices in food access.