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Reimagining 'aliens'

Nomenclatures of invasion, interdisciplinary connections and the impact on broader discourses about the spread of non-human species.

Project Principal Investigator: Dr Eric Tourigny Project Co-Investigator: Prof. Nanna Heidenreich, University of Applied Arts, Vienna Project Co-Investigator: Dr Doris Gutmiedl-Schümann, Freie Universität Berlin.

This project culminates in a workshop to be held at the end of May, 2022 that will bring together a cross-disciplinary team of researchers from the UK and Germany to identify how concepts of biological ‘invasions’ impact on research directions and public discourse. The uncritical use of concepts referring to ‘invasive’ or ‘alien’ non-human species have been heavily debated in the fields of conservation biology, biogeography and ecology as they imply a negative or unwelcome movement with nefarious intentions (Heger et al. 2013 J. Nature Consv. 21: 93-96), ultimately impacting the ways these species are viewed by researchers and the public. The terminologies adopted by researchers whilst studying species that move from one place to another changes over time, depends on the research cultures that have developed within disciplines and on the research contexts/questions being investigated. Exploring how scientists view these species can inform on variable constructions of concepts of ‘nature’, the cultural frameworks that shape each discipline and better understand the impact of research language on public discourse.

The workshop will bring together experts to identify and discuss how cultural frameworks for understanding the movement of species developed between disciplines, particularly those addressing and working with different concepts of time.

The project is generously funded by the British Academy.