Symposium | The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century

Posted in conferences (to attend), exhibitions by Editor on June 13, 2013

This fall at Dumbarton Oaks (as noted by Courtney Barnes at Style Court) . . .

The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century
Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., 4–5 October 2013

Durian Fruit

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This two-day symposium will bring together an international body of scholars working on botanical investigations and publications within the context of imperial expansion in the long eighteenth century.

The period saw widespread exploration, a tremendous increase in the traffic in botanical specimens, significant taxonomic innovations, and horticultural experimentation. We aim to revisit these developments from a comparative perspective that will include Europe, the Ottoman Empire, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

Main themes for discussion are global networks of plant discovery and transfer; the quest for medicinal plants and global crops such as ginseng, tea and opium; the economies of gift, trade, patronage, and scientific prestige in which plants circulated; imperial aspirations or influences as reflected in garden design; and visual strategies and epistemologies. Individual papers will explore the contributions of naturalists such as William Bartram (North America), Paul-Émile Botta (Levant), and François Le Vaillant (South Africa).

The symposium is timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Rare Book Room at Dumbarton Oaks, and will feature an exhibit of botanical works from our collections [with an online sample already available]. Registration for the symposium is now open.

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From the program:

Notice sur un Voyage dans L’Arabie Heureuse: Politics and Scientific Authority in the Work of Paul-Emile Botta
Sahar Bazzaz, College of the Holy Cross

Thomas McDonnell’s Opium: Circulating Plants, Patronage and Power in Britain, China and New Zealand, 1830s-1850s
James Beattie, University of Waikato

Botanical Conquistadors: Plants and Empire in the Hispanic Enlightenment
Daniela Bleichmar, University of Southern California

Bricolage of Flowers and Gardens: Agents of Early Modernization in Ottoman Istanbul
Deniz Çalış-Kural, Istanbul Bilgi University

On Diplomacy and the Botanical Gift: France and Mysore in 1788
Sarah Easterby-Smith, University of St. Andrews

François Le Vaillant: Accidental Botanist
Ian Glenn, University of Cape Town

The Geography of Ginseng and the Strange Alchemy of Needs
Shigehisa Kuriyama, Harvard University

Humboldt’s Gifts and a Bountiful Harvest from the Tropical Lowlands of Western South America
Colin McEwan, Dumbarton Oaks

William Bartram’s Drawing of a New Species of ‘Arethusa’ (1796): The Portrait of a Life
Amy Meyers, Yale Center for British Art

Emblems of the Creation and Destruction of All Things: The Lives and Deaths of Robert Thornton’s Medical Plants
Miranda Mollendorf, Harvard University

Making ‘Mongolian’ Nature: Medicinal Plants and Qing Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century
Carla Nappi, University of British Columbia

Ornamental Exotica: Transplanting the Aesthetics of Tea Consumption
Romita Ray, Syracuse University

Visions of Empire: Eighteenth-Century Western Accounts of Chinese Gardens
Bianca Rinaldi, University of Camerino

Echoes of Empire: Redefining the Botanical Garden in Eighteenth-Century Tuscany
Anatole Tchikine, Dumbarton Oaks

New Strategies of Vision in Botanical Illustration and Botanical Art in the Eighteenth Century
Lucia Tongiorgi, University of Pisa

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