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The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century

Symposium at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., October 4–5, 2013

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.

Registration for the symposium is now open.



Specimens and Rarities

Primary Sources from the Rare Book Collection

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