Plants and Empire

Plants and Empire

Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic World

eBook - 2004
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Harvard University Press
In the 18th century, bioprospectors sponsored by European imperial powers brought back medicines, luxuries, and staples from the New World to their king and country. This book explores the movement, triumph, and extinction of knowledge in the course of encounters between Europeans and the Caribbean populations.

Plants seldom figure in the grand narratives of war, peace, or even everyday life yet they are often at the center of high intrigue. In the eighteenth century, epic scientific voyages were sponsored by European imperial powers to explore the natural riches of the New World, and uncover the botanical secrets of its people. Bioprospectors brought back medicines, luxuries, and staples for their king and country. Risking their lives to discover exotic plants, these daredevil explorers joined with their sponsors to create a global culture of botany.

But some secrets were unearthed only to be lost again. In this moving account of the abuses of indigenous Caribbean people and African slaves, Schiebinger describes how slave women brewed the "peacock flower" into an abortifacient, to ensure that they would bear no children into oppression. Yet, impeded by trade winds of prevailing opinion, knowledge of West Indian abortifacients never flowed into Europe. A rich history of discovery and loss, Plants and Empire explores the movement, triumph, and extinction of knowledge in the course of encounters between Europeans and the Caribbean populations.



Publisher: Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 2004
ISBN: 9780674043275
0674043278
0674025687
9780674025684
Characteristics: 1 online resource (x, 306 pages) : illustrations

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