Elizabeth Hennessy

Elizabeth Hennessy

Elizabeth Hennessy is a geographer and assistant professor of history, history of science, and environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where she is a Vilas Associate and sits on the steering committee of the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment. She completed her PhD at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has done research in the Galápagos since 2007.

Elizabeth Hennessy as a geographer works at the intersection of environmental history, political ecology, science and technology studies, and multispecies studies with a regional focus on Latin America. Her first book, On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galápagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden was published by Yale University Press in 2019 and longlisted for a 2020 PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. The book draws on ethnographic and archival research to trace a transnational history of the iconic Galápagos giant tortoises as animals at the center of tensions among evolutionary science, conservation, and tourism development in the archipelago.

In Madison, Hennessy co-directs the Environmental Justice in Multispecies Worlds research group. She is also active in the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and the Environment (CHE) and formerly served as faculty advisor for Edge Effects, a digital magazine run by CHE graduate students. She is also affiliate faculty with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

Elizabeth Hennessy appears in

  • Join us for thought-provoking conversations that examine voluntourism and the impact that conservation practices and tourism have on the Galapagos Islands. First, voluntourism aka volunteer travel projects are helpful to communities in need.  But, intercultural educator Lena Papadopoulos says that some projects cause more harm to the communities they are meant to serve and it behooves us to recognize these hidden dangers and properly vet the organizations overseeing these projects. Then, Galápagos researcher Dr. Elizabeth Hennessy, has written On the Backs of Tortoises: Darwin, the Galápagos, and the Fate of an Evolutionary Eden  to help guide future conservation efforts by understanding how the history of the islands and current conservation efforts are entangled and challenging.  Dr. Hennessy says that In a world where evolution is shaped by global history, we need a vision for conservation based on reckoning with the past, rather than trying to erase it. See also: http://learningservice.info/why-learning-service-is-the-key-to-responsible-travel/ [...]