De-extinction and the Anthropocene in museological perspective: a case study of the Huia.
This paper considers issues in de-extinction using art historical and museological perspectives. It argues that advances made in these fields of inquiry constitute vital critical context for how we might understand the implications and assumptions surrounding de-extinction and its methods, including conceptualizations of how de-extinction and the Anthropocene relate. Locating its discussion at the intersection of two related themes, this paper articulates the relationship between de-extinction agendas and museological theory, and approaches the museum as one among other (distorting) technologies for looking and seeing upon which impressions of extinct species rest. Using the case study of the Huia, an indigenous bird of Aotearoa New Zealand last sighted in 1907, this paper illuminates the convoluted series of remediations from which its depiction in Eurocentric natural histories was produced, and considers the relationship between the species’ representation and its demise. In this, the museum – particularly in its practices of collecting, curating, commoditization, and canon formation – is evaluated as both an engine of and analogy for the Anthropocene.