Enfilade

New Book | Cultivating Commerce

Posted in books by internjmb on November 25, 2017

From Cambridge UP:

Sarah Easterby-Smith, Cultivating Commerce: Cultures of Botany in Britain and France, 1760–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017) 252 pages, ISBN: 978  131641  1339, $99.

Sarah Easterby-Smith rewrites the histories of botany and horticulture from the perspectives of plant merchants who sold botanical specimens in the decades around 1800. These merchants were not professional botanists, nor were they the social equals of refined amateurs of botany. Nevertheless, they participated in Enlightenment scholarly networks, acting as intermediaries who communicated information and specimens. Thanks to their practical expertise, they also became sources of new knowledge in their own right. Cultivating Commerce argues that these merchants made essential contributions to botanical history, although their relatively humble status means that their contributions have received little sustained attention to date. Exploring how the expert nurseryman emerged as a new social figure in Britain and France, and examining what happened to the elitist, masculine culture of amateur botany when confronted by expanding public participation, Easterby-Smith sheds fresh light on the evolution of transnational Enlightenment networks during the Age of Revolutions.

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