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Darwin’s writing is replete with descriptions of landscape. Following in the footsteps of his hero, Alexander von Humboldt, Darwin used descriptive language to convey the intricate and intimate network of relations to be found in nature. These landscapes, though, did not exist in pristine isolation. European colonialism had modified landscapes drastically with imposition of European agriculture. This lecture offers a close reading of Darwin’s landscape descriptions, of England after enclosure, and of enclosed land in the colonial periphery. In so doing, we find that Darwin accommodated himself and his theories to the prevailing tide of colonial expansion, accepting the devastation of indigenous peoples and landscapes as a natural consequence of evolutionary progress. 

Richard Choksey graduated from Birkbeck in 2021 with an MA in Global History: Empires States and Cultures. His studies in environmental history contribute to his work facilitating nature-connection and community gardening. He is an established horticulturist, trained with the RHS, Cambridge University Botanic Gardens and finally Kew Gardens. 

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but booking is required.