Books  Conservation & Biodiversity  Species Conservation & Care 

Mendel's Ark: Biotechnology and the Future of Extinction

  • Combines science, technology and society studies with environmental studies, giving a new view on the problem of species extinction and the biodiversity crisis
  • Will appeal to scholars in such emerging areas as animal studies and post-humanities, as well as established disciplines such as political science and anthropology
  • Broadens the study of the life sciences from health and medical applications to the environment and wildlife preservation
  • Engages with a the significant, controversial and highly visible new rhetoric of "de-extinction"

By: Amy Lynn Fletcher(Author)


Hardback | Sep 2014 | #215725 | ISBN-13: 9789401791205
Availability: Usually dispatched within 1 week Details
NHBS Price: £89.99 $116/€99 approx

About this book

Does extinction have to be forever? As the global extinction crisis accelerates, conservationists and policy-makers increasingly use advanced biotechnologies such as reproductive cloning, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and bioinformatics in the urgent effort to save species. Mendel's Ark considers the ethical, cultural and social implications of using these tools for wildlife conservation. Drawing upon sources ranging from science to science fiction, it focuses on the stories we tell about extinction and the meanings we ascribe to nature and technology. The use of biotechnology in conservation is redrawing the boundaries between animals and machines, nature and artifacts, and life and death. The new rhetoric and practice of de-extinction will thus have significant repercussions for wilderness and for society. The degree to which we engage collectively with both the prosaic and the fantastic aspects of biotechnological conservation will shape the boundaries and ethics of our desire to restore lost worlds.



1. The Future of Extinction

1.1 Goodbye to the Baiji

1.2 Welcome to the Anthropocene

1.3 Wicked Problems and Socio-Technical Imaginaries

1.4 Taking Control of Nature’s Realm

1.5 Telling Stories about Extinction

1.6 The Once and Future Baiji


2. A Political History of Extinction

2.1 The Biodiversity and Extinction Crisis

2.2 The Ladder of Life:  The Question of Extinction in Classical Antiquity

2.3 The Order of Things: Classifying Nature in the Age of Enlightenment

2.4 The Second Alexandrian Tragedy: Extinction in the Progressive Era

2.5 Spaceship Earth: Modern Environmental Movements

2.6 Extinction in the Anthropocene


3. Bio-Inventories:  The Digitization of Species

3.1 They Had to Count Them All:  An Introduction to Bioinformatics

3.2 The Encyclopaedia of Life

3.3 A Barcode for Every Species

3.3.1 Transforming Ecology: From Species to Genes

3.3.2 The Taxonomic Impediment

3.3.3 Citizen Scientists and Democratic Natures

3.3.4 Digitizing Taxonomy as Big Science

3.4 Discussion

3.4.1 Biological Citizenship

3.4.2 Digital Natures

3.4.3 Scientific Frontiers and the New Modernity


4. Bio-Interventions: Cloning Endangered Species

4.1 The Molecular Frontier: Genetics in the 20th Century

4.2 Life as Code: A New Metaphor

4.3 From Wistar Rats to Oncomice: Engineering Animals

4.4 Dolly and Polly: The Era of Animal Transgenics

4.5 Noah’s Ark: Cloning on the Edge of Extinction

4.5.1 Moral Hazards

4.5.2 Technological Fixes

4.5.3 Cloning and Animal Ethics

4.6 Discussion

4.6.1 Preservation in a Petri Dish

4.6.2 Bio-hype and Biovalue

4.6.3 At Least We Will Still Have Tigers


5. Bio-Identities: Cloning the Recently Extinct

5.1 Liminal Lives: The Biopolitics of De-extinction

5.2 The Past Comes Alive: Ancient DNA as Time Travel

5.2.1 Everything Old is New Again

5.3 So You’re Extinct: Tales of the Tasmanian Tiger

5.3.1 You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Until You Lose It

5.3.2 The Thylacine as Environmental Icon

5.4 The Thylacine Cloning Project

5.4.1 Bring ‘Em Back Alive

5.4.2 Spectacular Science

5.4.3 Biovalue and the Vital Past

5.5 Discussion

5.5.1 The Tiger in the Room

5.5.2 Bringing Back the Bucardo

5.5.4 Reviving and Restoring

6. Bio-Imaginaries: Bringing Back the Woolly Mammoth

6.1. Pleistocene Dreams: The Woolly Mammoth as Icon

6.2 Genes in Deep Time

6.2.1 Sequencing Ancient Genomes

6.2.2  Drawing Boundaries around Ancient DNA

6.2.3 Paleogenomics

6.3 Mammoth Cloning

6.3.1 How to Resurrect a Woolly Mammoth

6.3.2 Science, the Endless Frontier

6.3.3 How Much is a Woolly Mammoth Worth?

6.3.4 Genome Hacking: Mammoth-ifying the Elephant

6.4 Discussion

6.4.1 Pleistocene Parks and Paleolithic Futures

6.4.3 Why Not the Neanderthals, Too?


7. Restoration to Resurrection: Extinction in the 21st Century

7.1 Escaping the Black Hole of Extinction

7.2 Rewilding

7.3 De-Extinction

7.4 Synthetic Biology

7.5 Anticipatory Animals and Promissory Natures

7.6 In Search of Lost Worlds


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