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How to Plant a Colonial Garden: Botanical Work in the British Empire

July 26, 2018, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm

The lecture

In the 18th century, European empires sought to discover and cultivate spices, medicinal plants, and other cash crops. The British government turned to colonial botanic gardens to help develop agriculture and explore the plant life of its imperial possessions. This talk explores the triumphs and tribulations of people working in botanic gardens in India, Australia, and the Caribbean, as they navigated diverse social, political, and environmental landscapes to pursue botany in the service of empire.

The speaker

J’Nese Williams is a doctoral candidate studying the History of Science and Modern British History at Vanderbilt University. Her dissertation, “The Texture of Empire: British Colonial Botanic Gardens, Science, and Colonial Administration,” uses local activities of the British colonial gardens as a window into the operation of empire and government support of science in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. J’Nese is interested in the ways that the gardens responded to the needs of their local communities and the impact of these local programs on the perceived success or failure of individual gardens. Her dissertation also looks closely at botanic garden workers, including individuals of low social status, enslaved and free, whose botanical expertise led to recognition for themselves and for the gardens as scientific institutions. J’Nese will spend the 2017-2018 year in residence as a fellow at the Humanities Institute at the New York Botanical Garden and the Linda Hall Library. She earned a BA in history at Princeton University.

Admission tickets

The event is free and open to the public; however, e-tickets are required.


Parking is free in Library parking lots and along the west side of Holmes Street between 51st and 52nd streets. The main entrance to the Library grounds is on Cherry Street. The Linda Hall Library is not affiliated with UMKC. Parking in all UMKC lots is by permit or meter.


July 26, 2018
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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Eric Ward
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Linda Hall Library
5109 Cherry
Kansas City, MO 64110 United States
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Questions? Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information about these events.

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