Page, Joanna;

Published On


Page Range

pp. 1–24


  • English

Print Length

24 pages


  • visual arts
  • collection
  • identification
  • study
  • exhibition
  • flora and fauna
  • New World
  • Latin America
  • chroniclers
  • colonial period
  • scientific expeditions
  • Enlightenment
  • museum exhibition practices
  • artworks
  • critique
  • universal scientific language
  • pluralize epistemologies
  • technologies of knowledge
  • objectivity
  • universalism
  • historicize
  • timeless nature
  • modern science
  • marginalized knowledge
  • environmental change
  • decolonial perspectives
  • post-anthropocentric perspectives
  • relationships
  • humans
  • natural world


  • Joanna Page (author)
The visual arts have played an integral role in the collection, identification, study, and exhibition of flora and fauna since the earliest times. The introduction traces ways in which art has participated in the construction of knowledge about the New World in particular, drawing on relevant recent scholarship by Daniela Bleichmar, Mauricio Nieto Olarte, and Juan Pimentel, among others. It focuses on how animal and plant life in Latin America were documented by chroniclers of the early colonial period, in the great scientific expeditions of the Enlightenment, and in museum exhibition practices of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The introduction outlines how the more recent artworks studied in this book develop a critique of the Enlightenment’s quest for a universal scientific language, searching instead to pluralize epistemologies. Returning to technologies of knowledge that were often designed to yield greater objectivity and universalism, Latin American artists have adapted these for different purposes: to reentwine natural history with human history, to historicize a timeless and universal nature, and to reconnect modern science with forms of knowledge it has marginalized since the eighteenth century. These techniques allow them to intervene critically in debates about environmental change and to explore decolonial and post-anthropocentric perspectives on the relationships between humans and the natural world.


Joanna Page

Professor of Latin American Studies at University of Cambridge

Joanna Page is Professor of Latin American Studies and the Director of CRASSH (the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities) at the University of Cambridge. She is the author of several books on cinema, graphic fiction, literature and visual art in Argentina, Chile, and Latin America more broadly. Many of her research projects focus on the relationship between science and the arts, but her interests also include posthumanism, new materialism, decoloniality and environmental thought in Latin America. Her most recent monograph was Decolonizing Science in Latin American Art (UCL Press, 2021). Other books published in the past few years include Geopolitics, Culture, and the Scientific Imaginary in Latin America (co-edited with María del Pilar Blanco, University Press of Florida, 2020) and Posthumanism and the Graphic Novel in Latin America (co-authored with Edward King, UCL Press, 2017).