Panda Heritage | (China) Christof Lammer

Panda Heritage: Kinship Measurements and Life’s Value in Species Conservation

What makes nature valuable and worth protecting as “heritage”? In the case of species conservation efforts, Christof assumes that kinship measurements play a central role when people decide which species and individuals should be protected – and which not. Panda Heritage expands his earlier work on the generative force of kinship measurements beyond humans and connects with his work on infrastructures of value in agriculture. The giant panda is a particularly interesting species for exploring how humans also employ measurements of kinship to determine origin, belonging and life’s value in species conservation. Pandas are symbol of global conservation efforts and protected as world heritage in wildlife sanctuaries, but also claimed by the People’s Republic of China as national treasure and used for so-called panda diplomacy. For Panda Heritage, Christof analyses historical and contemporary sources of panda research and interviews involved natural scientists. The aim is to map the overlapping and competing kinship measurements that are used to delineate the panda from other species and determine it’s place in the evolutionary tree of life, to inform panda matchmaking to preserve genetic diversity, and habitat modelling and care practices to enable “rewilding”. Thereby it promises insights into how seemingly unremarkable kinship measurements not only justify the protection of “natural heritage” but also shape conservation interventions that also affect the lives of humans and other companion species.

Christof Lammer

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