Whether working with scientific archives as objects of research (Bowker 2005; Braverman 2016; Tsing 2005) or as methodological instruments for diachronic ethnography (Stoler 2002), anthropologists and STS scholars are uniquely positioned to think about archives and changing archival practices in novel ways. In particular, as the data stored in archives is contested, scrutinized, removed and/or hidden (see for instance climate change data taken offline by the Trump Administration), anthropologists of science and the environment find that they have a key role in preserving the histories of natures they study around the world.
In light of this phenomenon, we ask: How do our interlocutors’ creative efforts to preserve biodiversity, assemble geological data, or build models for environmental change help us understand the often-inadvertent natural histories we create in the course of our own work? How do we interpret the parallels between the collection, conservation and analysis practices of natural scientists and anthropologists? What is the significance of building biodiversity archives and working with conservation databases in the Anthropocene? How do we as anthropologists deal with changes taking place at an alarming rate in access to archives, the materiality of archives (going digital instead of analog), and the way archival data is legitimated?
This panel welcomes papers with diverse geographical foci that interrogate the construction and digitization of biodiversity archives, changing technologies of archival memory, and the role of anthropologists in collecting and preserving environmental data.