Birds of Empire, Birds of Nation adds to a growing literature on the history of science in Latin America. Focusing on the period from 1880 to 1960, Quintero Toro examines the trade in birds between Colombia and the United States and considers the wider implications of this exchange of specimens and knowledge. Colombia is home to an incredibly diverse population of birds, from the handsome toucans displayed on the book’s cover to the tiny hummingbird. Birds of Empire explores how these enchanting creatures became subjects of study for both Colombian and US naturalists, functioning by turns as a source of national pride and a vehicle for cultural imperialism.

Birds of Empire’s primary focus is on scientific exchange between Colombia and the United States. This frames the discussion in chapters 2 and 3. In the early twentieth century several US-organized scientific expeditions visited...

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