Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The In Crowd

I went to a lecture the other day and the person speaking was a student, she was talking about conservation genetics. About identifying species distinctions using genetics (e.g.-this is not one species of monkey, it is actually two according to the story these genes are telling) and then lobbying for that newly defined species to be protected.

It was a good talk, but I was thinking about it afterward and I started to think about how what I am going to be studying can be boiled down to a few themes to be better understood:

1) It is all about categories-species (extinct or living) or categories across space or through time. Whether you are using genes, morphology, behaviour or geography to define variation, its all about finding differences and deciding if they are large enough to warrant another category or subcategory.

2) Its also about where your science falls in the continuum of conservative groupings or not. Do you like to lump all of these individuals together on the basis of ________ characteristic? or do you tend to think that they are too different to be all together?

A little like the rest of life too. This theme is pervasive in all sorts of things: race, class, gender, language or even something as simple and everyday as social life.

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