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February 19 , 2009

Ghost Stories for Darwin

The Science of Variation and the Politics of Diversity


In a stimulating interchange between feminist studies and biology, Banu Subramaniam explores how her dissertation on flower color variation in morning glories launched her on an intellectual odyssey that engaged the feminist studies of sciences in the experimental practices of science by tracing the central and critical idea of variation in biology. As she shows, the histories of eugenics and genetics and their impact on the metaphorical understandings of difference and diversity that permeate common understandings of differences among people exist in contexts that seem distant from the so-called objective hard sciences. Journeying into areas that range from the social history of plants to speculative fiction, Subramaniam uncovers key relationships between the life sciences, women's studies, evolutionary and invasive biology, and the history of ecology, and how ideas of diversity and difference emerged and persist in each field.

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