Feminist engagements with biology vary widely in methodological approaches, critical interventions, and knowledge-making projects. Biology can refer to (at least) two different things: the scientific study of living organisms or the workings of organisms themselves in all their complexity. With respect to the former, biology emerged as a single coherent scientific field, or as the “biological sciences,” only in the nineteenth century, but traditions of natural history and medicine date back to ancient times and include multiple traditions and genealogies across the globe. The biological sciences as we know them today were consolidated through histories of colonialism, and the history of biology subsequently coalesced into a larger history of “western science.” The idea of a cohesive and universal science emerged through the appropriation of some nonwestern knowledge as science and the relegation of other knowledge to the status of nonscientific beliefs or cosmologies. Indigenous and local sciences were also marginalized as alternate knowledges, away from the mantle of “Science.” In fact, the boundaries among these various knowledge-making practices are highly porous, and the success of the “biological sciences” should be understood as a selective project deeply steeped in the history and afterlives of colonization.

This essay may be found on page 27 of the printed volume.

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