Repeating Islands

uncHere, we share excerpts from a review of Megan Raby’s American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science(2017), which was published in the Flows, Migrations, and Exchanges Series of the University of North Carolina Press. The book was reviewed by Cuban scholar Leida Fernández Prieto (Instituto de Historia, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas). [Review translated by Casey Lurtz.]

In 1995, the pioneering work of Richard Grove pointed to tropical islands as a key site for examining early Western environmental thought in the context of imperial European expansion between 1660 and 1860. Megan Raby, for her part, situates the scientific birth of the modern concept of biodiversity on US tropical research stations in the circum-Caribbean during and after the Spanish-Cuban-American War of 1898. To do so, Raby analyzes the role of North American biologists and scientists in stations created in Cuba, Jamaica, British Guiana (today Guyana), and Panama. She structures the book in five chapters, an epilogue…

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