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From Ark to Bank: Extinction, proxies and biocapital in ex-situ biodiversity conservation practices

Breithoff, E; Harrison, R; (2018) From Ark to Bank: Extinction, proxies and biocapital in ex-situ biodiversity conservation practices. International Journal of Heritage Studies 10.1080/13527258.2018.1512146. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

This paper takes a critical approach to understanding the social and cultural ‘work’ of natural heritage conservation, focussing specifically on ex-situ biodiversity cryopreservation practices. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with the Frozen Ark, a UK-based ‘frozen zoo’ aiming to preserve the DNA of endangered animal species, the paper situates the development of non-human animal biobanks in relation to current anxieties regarding the anticipated loss of biodiversity. These developments are seeding new global futures by driving advances in technologies, techniques and practices of cloning, de-extinction, re-wilding and potential species re-introduction. While this provides impetus to rethink the nature of ‘nature’ itself, as something which is actively made by such conservation practices, we also aim to make a contribution to the development of a series of critical concepts for analysis of ex-situ and in-situ natural heritage preservation practices, which further illuminates their roles in building distinctive futures, through discussion of the relationship between conservation proxies, biobanking and biocapitals. We suggest that questions of value and the role of future making in relation to heritage cannot be disassociated from an analysis of economic issues, and, therefore, the paper is framed within a broader discussion of the place of ex-situ biodiversity cryopreservation in the late capitalist global economy.

Type: Article
Title: From Ark to Bank: Extinction, proxies and biocapital in ex-situ biodiversity conservation practices
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/13527258.2018.1512146
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2018.1512146
Language: English
Additional information: © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: biobanking, biocapitals, biodiversity, proxies, futures
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of SandHS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10054280
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