conservation biology and the regulatory archive

As of 1 September 2010, I’m a research scholar in Department II of the Max Planck Institute for the the History of Science, where I’m participating in a project on the Sciences of the Archive. The project aims to historicize “data” —  a concept which, as my colleagues at the MPIWG write, has typically been considered “too basic to merit a history.”

My work focuses on the ways in which ideas about data — and, more broadly, about science — have been embodied in the regulatory system that protects marine mammals and endangered species in the United States. Rather than rehearsing the well-known history of endangered-species controversies, this study examines the structure of the “regulatory archive”: the mountains of documents and corresponding data-management practices upon which the regulation of potentially harmful activities (including, notably, field studies by conservation biologists) depends. This approach will, I hope, provide a new perspective on the role of science in the environmental movement, the relationship between science and government, and the evolution of the modern regulatory state.

Author: Etienne

Historian of science, technology, animals, and the environment.