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Plant capitalism and company science: the Indian career of Nathaniel Wallich \ud

By David Arnold

Abstract

The career of the Danish-born botanist Nathaniel Wallich, superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden from 1815 to 1846, illustrates the complex nature of botanical science under the East India Company and shows how the plant life of South Asia was used as a capital resource both in the service of the Company's economic interests and for Wallich's own professional advancement and international reputation. Rather than seeing him as a pioneer of modern forest conservation or an innovative botanist, Wallich's attachment to the ideology of ‘improvement’ and the Company's material needs better explain his longevity as superintendent of the Calcutta garden. Although aspects of Wallich's career and botanical works show the importance of circulation between Europe and India, more significant was the hierarchy of knowledge in which indigenous plant lore and illustrative skill were subordinated to Western science and in which colonial science frequently lagged behind that of the metropolis

Topics: QK, DS
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2008
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.warwick.ac.uk:858

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