research abstract

My practice-based Ph.D. research project at the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths in London is entitled Species of Exchange  |  Investments in Nature. The project investigates the changing modes of investment in tropical nature. I argue that zoological and botanical scientific objects offer both the researcher and curator an under-examined archive for tracing the complex geopolitical legacies of environmental and colonial violence and their attendant visual economies. I link colonial practices of “collecting” to current strategies for “banking” nature: nineteenth century European specimen collections are thus read as precursors to contemporary primary rainforest investment zones. I also trace practices of forest modification from the invention of Prussian forestry in the eighteenth century to the ongoing monocultural plantations of oil palm in Indonesia. My analysis of colonial scientific practices in Nusantara—through specimen collecting and forest modification—provides the historical basis against which I go on to investigate contemporary modes of investing in nature through “species banking” and “forest financialisation.”
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