Caring only for canes? Botanical sociability in the Anglo-Caribbean in the age of revolution – J’Nese Williams (University of Notre Dame)

February 21, 2022 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Olin Moctezuma

In Britain, a visible interest in botany could be a sign of status and allegiance to ‘improvement’ in its various forms. In the British West Indies, the local and imperial government was active in supporting botany, but the attitudes of the local people are less clear. The superintendents of the government botanic gardens in St Vincent and Jamaica lamented leaving their active botanical social lives in Britain to toil in a place where the ‘planters mind nothing but sugar canes’. Despite the pessimism of the government botanists, there was a botanical community on the British sugar islands, and its members ran agricultural societies, kept lush private gardens, and maintained a lively correspondence across the Caribbean and the Atlantic. This paper will outline the contours of this botanical community in the Anglo-Caribbean, including some of the social roles that botanical interest played in island society.

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