Elizabeth Hennessy

Membership:  2017

Member Bio

Elizabeth Hennessy is an assistant professor of world environmental history in the Department of History and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her PhD in geography in 2014 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and works at the intersection of political ecology, science and technologies studies, animal studies, and environmental history. She is writing her first book, On the Backs of Tortoises: The Past and Future of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands, which focuses on the islands' most iconic species, giant tortoises, to trace intertwined transnational histories of capitalist development, evolutionary science, and conservation in the archipelago. In Madison, she has been on the board of the Center for Culture, History, and the Environment (CHE) and serves as the faculty advisor for Edge Effects, a digital magazine run by CHE graduate students. She is also affiliated with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. She teaches on the history of the Anthropocene, Latin American environmental history, and animal history.



  • “Freezing Life in the Anthropocene.” In Future Remains: A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene, edited by Robert Emmett, Marco Amerio, and Gregg Mitman. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2017.
  • “Mythologizing ‘Darwin’s Islands.’” Chapter 5 in Darwinism and Conservation in the Galápagos Islands, edited by Diego Quiroga and Ana Maria Sevilla, 65–90. New York: Springer, 2016.
  • “The Molecular Turn in Conservation: Genetics, Pristine Nature, and the Rediscovery of an Extinct Species of Galápagos Giant Tortoise.” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 105, no. 1 (2015): 87–104.
  • “Producing ‘Prehistoric’ Life: Conservation Breeding and the Remaking of Wildlife Genealogies.” Geoforum 49 (2013): 71–80.
  • with Amy McCleary. “Nature’s Eden? The Production and Effects of ‘Pristine’ Nature in the Galápagos Islands.” Island Studies Journal 6, no. 2 (2011): 131–56.