Science and Colonial Expansion: The Role of the British Royal Botanic Gardens

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Yale University Press, 2002 - History - 215 pages
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This widely acclaimed book analyzes the political effects of scientific research as exemplified by one field, economic botany, during one epoch, the nineteenth century, when Great Britain was the world’s most powerful nation. Lucile Brockway examines how the British botanic garden network developed and transferred economically important plants to different parts of the world to promote the prosperity of the Empire.

In this classic work, available once again after many years out of print, Brockway examines in detail three cases in which British scientists transferred important crop plants--cinchona (a source of quinine), rubber and sisal--to new continents. Weaving together botanical, historical, economic, political, and ethnographic findings, the author illuminates the remarkable social role of botany and the entwined relation between science and politics in an imperial era.
 

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Contents

The British Empire
13
Seed and Plant Transfers
35
General Intellectual Background
61
Kew Gardens and the Scientific Elite
77
Kew and Cinchona
103
RubberA New Plantation Crop
141
Amazonian Rubber on the World Market
147
Wild Rubber Assessed
156
Rubber and the Empire
164
Conclusions
185
Appendix List of the Staffs of the Royal Gardens Kew and
197
References
203
Subject Index
213
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About the author (2002)

The late Lucile H. Brockway received her doctoral degree in anthropology from the City University of New York.

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