The University of Massachusetts Amherst

A World in a Shell: The Disappearing Snails of Hawai’i

Event date/time: 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 6:00pm

Thom van Dooren
Field philosopher, storyteller and associate professor, University of Sydney and the University of Oslo
The Hawaiian Islands were once home to one of the most diverse assemblages of terrestrial snails found anywhere on earth. Today, however, the majority of these species are extinct and most of those that remain are headed swiftly in the same direction. This lecture explores this larger context of loss, asking what it means and why it matters that so much of Hawai’i’s rich snail diversity is disappearing. It does so, however, through a focus on one very particular question: how did a global centre of terrestrial snail diversity end up out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean? Snails, after all, are not commonly known for their propensity to undertake long journeys—not by land, and certainly not by sea. So, how did they all get to this most remote oceanic archipelago? Equally as importantly at our present time, how might the ongoing extinctions of snails be understood differently if we pay attention to these deep-time processes? What might this context help us to see, appreciate, and perhaps hold onto?

This event will be live and recorded on Zoom, Facebook and YouTube. Spanish interpretation and closed captioning will be available.

Part of the UMass History Department's 2020-21 Feinberg Series: Planet on a Precipice: Histories and Futures of the Environmental Emergency

SPP is a cosponsor of the Feinberg Series

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