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Quest for Permanence in the Tropics: Portuguese Bioprospecting in Asia (16th-18th Centuries)

Quest for Permanence in the Tropics: Portuguese Bioprospecting in Asia (16th-18th Centuries) The history of agricultural, botanical, pharmacological, and medical exchanges is one of the most fascinating chapters in early modern natural history. Until recently, however, historiography has been dominated by the British experience from the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, with Kew Gardens at the center of the “green imperialism.” In this article we address the hard-won knowledge acquired by those who participated in early modern Portuguese imperial bioprospecting in Asia. The Portuguese were the first to transplant important economic plants from one continent to another, on their imposing colonial chessboard. In spite of this, the history of Portuguese bioprospecting is still fragmentary, especially with respect to India and the Indian Ocean. We argue not only that the Portuguese—imperial officials, missionaries, and the people connected with them, all living and working under the banner of the Portuguese empire—were interested in gathering knowledge but also that the results of their endeavors were relevant for the development of natural history in the early modern period and that they were important actors within the larger community of naturalists. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient Brill

Quest for Permanence in the Tropics: Portuguese Bioprospecting in Asia (16th-18th Centuries)

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
0022-4995
eISSN
1568-5209
DOI
10.1163/15685209-12341357
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The history of agricultural, botanical, pharmacological, and medical exchanges is one of the most fascinating chapters in early modern natural history. Until recently, however, historiography has been dominated by the British experience from the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries, with Kew Gardens at the center of the “green imperialism.” In this article we address the hard-won knowledge acquired by those who participated in early modern Portuguese imperial bioprospecting in Asia. The Portuguese were the first to transplant important economic plants from one continent to another, on their imposing colonial chessboard. In spite of this, the history of Portuguese bioprospecting is still fragmentary, especially with respect to India and the Indian Ocean. We argue not only that the Portuguese—imperial officials, missionaries, and the people connected with them, all living and working under the banner of the Portuguese empire—were interested in gathering knowledge but also that the results of their endeavors were relevant for the development of natural history in the early modern period and that they were important actors within the larger community of naturalists.

Journal

Journal of the Economic and Social History of the OrientBrill

Published: Sep 26, 2014

Keywords: Natural History; Portuguese Empire; India

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