Our next public lecture: Merle Patchett; University of Bristol; School of Geographical Sciences; From Sexual Selection to Sex And The City: The Biogeographies of the Blue Bird-Of-Paradise; Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm 

FROM SEXUAL SELECTION TO SEX AND THE CITY: THE BIOGEOGRAPHIES OF THE BLUE BIRD-OF-PARADISE

Merle Patchett; University of Bristol, School of Geographical Sciences 

Wednesday October 18th  6.30 pm -8.00 pm inc discussion, wine and snacks; Newton Park Campus; Commons Building; Room 225; this is a free event but please book a place through Bath Spa Live here 

Abstract. This paper takes as its starting point an encounter with a preserved blue bird-of-paradise skin. Though rare, the bird became wildly famous after it perched atop the head of Carrie Bradshaw during Sex and the City: The Movie. For those handling bird-of-paradise skins the ethereal beauty and luxurious quality of their plumage is immediately felt, making it easy to understand why birds-of-paradise have “for millennia been ornaments, commodities and gifts”. [i]  Yet as Darwin’s theory of sexual selection tells us, the birds’ exuberant plumage evolved entirely for their own pleasure. This paper will therefore chart the blue bird-of-paradise’s biogeographies of excess: from sexual selection to Sex and the City. Tracing the lively geographies of this dead bird from New Guinea rainforests to New York streets offers the opportunity of narrating collective natural and cultural change over time and space. This is because the blue bird-of-paradise can be thought of as a “telling example” of the millions of Paradisaea that were hunted, traded, shipped and lusted after since their earliest forms of commodification. Moreover, with the Paradisaea now said to be on a “flight to oblivion” the paper will conclude by outlining how the blue bird-of-paradise offers a way of working towards transspecies histories and therefore multispecies recuperation.

Biography

Merle Patchett is a cultural-historical geographer by training. Her research broadly focuses on theories, histories, and geographies of practice. This focus has led her to engage empirically with a range of specialised skills (e.g. taxidermy and plumasserie), practitioners (e.g. artisans, artists and architects), and places of practice (e.g. museums, galleries and archives) and to develop practice-based methodologies. See Merle’s staff pages here

 Image result for Merle patchett

 

Author: Owain Jones

I work at Bath Spa University as a Professor of Environmental Humanities. I also write songs and help stage a range of live music with others. I am Chair and Programmer for Priston Festival.

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