The central premise of modern ethnobotany – the study of people-plant relations – is that sustainable livelihoods and biodiversity conservation can be reconciled to mutual benefit. Today ethnobotany emphasises the agency of communities and the need for integrated conservation of culture and nature. Yet ethnobotany has a past grounded in trade and empire. Why should we study this past? Drawing on examples from Kew’s collections and archives, this talk argues that ethnobotany’s current role can be greatly enhanced when understood in the wider context of historical research.
Prof. Mark Nesbitt is Senior Research Leader for Interdisciplinary Research and curator of the Economic Botany Collection at Kew Gardens, and a visiting professor in geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. He has been the Kew convenor of the Kent-Kew Ethnobotany Programme since 1999. Among numerous publications, he is co-author of Just the Tonic: A natural history of tonic water (Kew 2019), and an editor of Curating biocultural collections: a handbook (Kew 2014).
Admission is free, all welcome! Please book:
A recording will be made available through https://research.kent.ac.uk/cbcd/