In her poem, Perhaps the World Ends Here, Joy Harjo uses the “kitchen table” as a central metaphor of life and living. The world ends here or begins here because many a history of colonialism, and botany has been told through spices and the spice trade. If spices are central to the history of colonialism, what does that mean for projects on decolonizing botany? How do we understand the history of botany through the colonial, postcolonial, settler colonial and decolonial that centers spices as pivotal points of encounter? What emerges is no easy story, but a complex set of entanglements with a set of diverse actors. Using the case of India, Banu Subramaniam contrast two cases, the Hortus Malabaricus in the 17th century and the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library in the 21st century – as book ends to examine the politics of race and caste in the legacies of colonial and postcolonial botany.
Banu Subramaniam, Professor of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Open to Columbia University ID holders. Hosted by the Histories of Health, Science, and the Environment in the Global South Workshop Series within the Global Histories of Science Research Cluster.