Sex, Botany, and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks

Sex, Botany, and Empire: The Story of Carl Linnaeus and Joseph Banks

by Patricia Fara
     
 

ISBN-10: 0231134266

ISBN-13: 9780231134262

Pub. Date: 09/01/2004

Publisher: Columbia University Press

Enlightenment botany was replete with sexual symbolism—to the extent that many botanical textbooks were widely considered pornographic. Carl Linnaeus's controversial new system for classifying plants based on their sexual characteristics, as well as his use of language resonating with erotic allusions, provoked intense public debate over the morality of

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Overview

Enlightenment botany was replete with sexual symbolism—to the extent that many botanical textbooks were widely considered pornographic. Carl Linnaeus's controversial new system for classifying plants based on their sexual characteristics, as well as his use of language resonating with erotic allusions, provoked intense public debate over the morality of botanical study. And the renowned Tahitian exploits of Joseph Banks—whose trousers were reportedly stolen while he was inside the tent of Queen Oberea of Tahiti—reinforced scandalous associations with the field. Yet Linnaeus and Banks became powerful political and scientific figures who were able to promote botanical exploration alongside the exploitation of territories, peoples, and natural resources. Sex, Botany, and Empire explores the entwined destinies of these two men and how their influence served both science and imperialism.

Patricia Fara reveals how Enlightenment botany, under the veil of rationality, manifested a drive to conquer, subdue, and deflower—all in the name of British empire. Linnaeus trained his traveling disciples in a double mission—to bring back specimens for the benefit of the Swedish economy and to spread the gospel of Linnaean taxonomy. Based in London at the hub of an international exchange and correspondence network, Banks ensured that Linnaeus's ideas became established throughout the world. As the president of the Royal Society for more than forty years, Banks revolutionized British science, and his innovations placed science at the heart of trade and politics. He made it a policy to collect and control resources not only for the sake of knowledge but also for the advancement of the empire. Although Linnaeus is often celebrated as modern botany's true founder, Banks has had a greater long-term impact. It was Banks who ensured that science and imperialism flourished together, and it was he who first forged the interdependent relationship between scientific inquiry and the state that endures to this day.

Columbia University Press

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231134262
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
09/01/2004
Series:
Revolutions in Science Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
176
Product dimensions:
4.42(w) x 7.24(h) x 0.30(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Table of Contents

Ch. 1The three Ss1
Ch. 2The scientific Swede19
Ch. 3The British botanist47
Ch. 4Exploration and exploitation70
Ch. 5Exoticism and eroticism96
Ch. 6Imperialism and institutions127
Ch. 7Heroes and hemispheres153

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