In biology it is common to name new species after human names. Once a new species’ description is accepted, this name can rarely be changed. A species of beetle, Anophthalmus hitleri, was named after Adolf Hitler in 1933, and the name has not been changed even after World War II.
Modern biology as a scientific practice has an intricate relationship with colonial structures. Using the botanical naming system as an example this project aims to reveal this connection. Instead of taking morphological, contextual, or local cultural aspects into consideration while naming a new species, many scientists have chosen to name their “discoveries” after relatives, donors, or themselves. This personal, even emotional, practice goes against the claims for objectivity, impartiality, and neutrality in the sciences.
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The data artist
Hi, my name is Tai Linhares, I’m a visual artist, filmmaker, and data analyst, who advocates for accessible and democratic human-centered technology. To keep up with my work, follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn. If you want to know about my previous projects, reach out to my artist website.
This project wouldn’t be possible without the support of friends. I’d like to thank Jessica Greene for her Python programming mentorship that made the coding part of this project possible. Besides that, the enthusiasm and advice of my biologist friend Edvandro Ribeiro inspired me to start this artistic research. Lastly, thanks to the science and arts collective Parallax and the Lab:prepare seminar tutors at TU Berlin for their feedback and for keeping me accountable.
This project has been supported by: