Sadiah Qureshi - Doomed to Die? Endangered Races, Science and Modern Settler Colonialism

November 18, 2015
History of Science Colloquium

Speaker: Sadiah Qureshi, University of Birmingham
December 2, 2015 - 4:30 pm
211 Dickinson Hall

Lamenting the predicament of dying races became an increasingly prominent occupation in the long nineteenth century. Novelists, painters, scientists, politicians, poets, travel writers and missionaries all contributed to creating and perpetuating the sense that some peoples were doomed to a speedy extinction. The feelings of imminent change were not entirely unfounded as many human societies found themselves ravaged by the new diseases, loss of land and warfare they suffered due to vast colonial expansion. The circumstances leading to this loss sparked and stimulated great discussion over the kinds of political activity that were appropriate for civilized nations, and how best to tackle the fate of the European empires whilst learning from past lessons. Many scholars have explored the notion of dying races in histories of colonial contact, modern land rights or genocide; yet, most have overlooked the new epistemological status of extinction as a mechanism for explaining natural change. Thus, in the debates over what kinds of action ought to be taken, by whom and for what purpose, the notion of human endangerment came to play a central role in shaping the agendas of conservationists, their opponents and foreign policy makers. In this talk, Dr. Qureshi will explore how reframing the loss of peoples as one of the most intensely fraught and negotiated aspects of modern settler colonialism allows us to better understand the issues of wider importance, such as the relationships between scientific knowledge and political policy-making, competing visions of endangered peoples’ lives and their legacies for the peoples who managed to survive.

Sadiah Qureshi: Doomed to Die, History of Science Colloquium

Co-sponsored by the Program in History of Science, the Center for African American Studies, and the Department of Anthropology.