E. O. Wilson’s Biodiversity, Commodity Culture, and Sentimental Globalism


This essay discusses Biodiversity, the 1988 landmark collection of papers edited by American biologist E. O. Wilson, which established biodiversity as a popular scientific concept. Lousley proposes that it be read as part of a sentimental culture that provided a fantasy space for global subjectivity. Sentimental cultures underpinned the main humanitarian movements of the last two centuries (abolition, temperance, animal welfare, child protection, refugee assistance) but have been less discussed in relation to environmentalism. Broadening the discursive formation to include these seemingly trivial, though astoundingly pervasive, cultural texts and practices points to how biodiversity functions at the intersection of material, political, and affective economies.

DOI: doi.org/10.5282/rcc/6189