Nicole Rehnberg

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, University of California, Santa Barbara

2022 to 2023
Research Fellow

White Roots, Redwoods: Racializing Conservation in Germany and the US, 1920-1945

“White Roots, Redwoods” explores how practitioners and popularizers of conservation and eugenics used the charismatic megaflora Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia (“Big Trees”) as a symbol of the Nordic race and a tool to work towards the outcomes of white supremacy and white nationalism. German and US conservation groups believed that if various publics could see the Nordic species, flora and human-fauna, exhibited at natural history museums and parks, they would be inspired to save them. Leaders of the US conservation and eugenics groups collaborated with German Bund Heimatschutz and Artamanen-Gesellschaft and conflated forest and racial management in Germany and the US. My dissertation argues that “Big Tree” conservation’s connections with eugenics constituted vital growth of white nationalism through racialized conservation, becoming a dominant ideology and an active promulgater of white supremacy with white-centric curation and interpretation in natural history museums and parks in Germany and the US.