I hope this is not the last study on Darwin. Each new generation must review his legacy and draw new conclusions
Science historian and Charles Darwin biographer
[The following text is only a summary of the full interview published in Spanish and Catalan]
By the end of 2009, the Year of Darwin celebrations were coming to an end. The science historian, Janet Browne, visited Valencia on the occasion of the biennial congress of the Spanish Society for Evolutionary Biology (SESBE), which was one of these celebrations that commemorated Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species.
Your biography on Charles Darwin is considered the best biography on the naturalist ever written. However, there were already excellent works that dealt with Darwin’s life. Why did you choose to start such an arduous and long project?
And personally, what motivated you to carry out this work?
You were able to access a great deal of material on Darwin. Actually, you used many of Darwin’s letters to make a reconstruction of his life. Can selecting sources and compiling information be a problem for a science historian?
We can find Darwin’s image as well as his ideas within the sphere of popular culture. For example, in cartoons.
Can popular culture tell us something about the reception of Darwinism in different countries?
Stating that Darwin’s ideas about nature have changed our world view (and our own) is quite common. But today evolution is a controversial issue for some people. What role does history play in supporting evolution as a key explanatory theory for natural sciences?
You are acquainted with the American society and its problems to admit the theory of evolution. Is it a particular problem of a section of society or is it a more generalised issue?
And what role do the Year of Darwin celebrations play in transmitting the figure of Darwin?
© Miguel Lorenzo
«I hope this is not the last study on Darwin. Each new generation must review his legacy and draw new conclusions.»
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