On Biodiversity: History, Heritage, and Research in Asia, Conference at ARI, NUS, 13-14 July 2023

Date13 July 2023 – 14 July 2023
VenueHybrid (Online via Zoom & AS8 04-04)
10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC

This conference is organized by the Asia Research Institute (ARI), National University of Singapore (NUS); with support from Yale-NUS College. This event is funded by ARI and the Singapore Social Science Research Council (SSRTG Type A) project on “Linking the Digital Humanities to Biodiversity History in Singapore and Southeast Asia”.

Biodiversity research takes on a particular valence in Asia, home to some of the most bio-geographically important areas of the world. From the waters of Southeast Asia’s Coral Triangle to the large river basins of the continent to the mountainous ecologies of the Himalayas, the many ecoregions encompassed within Asia are remarkably rich in flora and fauna. This biodiversity is, however, threatened in multiple ways—endangered by the consequences of rapid urbanisation, industrialisation, population growth, climate change, and multiple other concerns. Biodiversity change remains a pressing issue in this part of the world, made even more complex by the movement and circulation of species caused by the long history of regional interconnectivity and habitat decline. Within this context, we want to emphasize the significance of understanding the value of local and regional biodiversity, as well as taking steps to conserve that natural heritage and economic asset. Our conference will produce new insight into the causes and consequences of biodiversity change.

Building on our previous events highlighting scholarship in the environmental humanities and the ecology of non-native species, this conference will create a space for analysing the myriad historical vectors (or pathways) of biodiversity change in the region, while seeking ways to mitigate its impacts in the present. Colonial histories and inter-imperial species exchanges within Asia and the Pacific world; longstanding cultural and economic ties across the Malay world; online trade in plants and animals with the advent of digital communication technology—these are but a few of the vectors studied by academics and practitioners, such as our project members from Singapore’s National Parks Board (NPARKS) and natural history museums, across a variety of historical/biological disciplines and time periods. In bringing together these bodies of research, our conference will foster a holistic and interdisciplinary environment to investigate the driving forces and impacts of biodiversity change.


Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Dr Anthony D. MEDRANO
Division of Social Sciences, Yale-NUS College