Hardcover: 354 pages
Publisher: Yale University Press (August 1, 2000)
Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
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Drayton's main point is to show the inter-relatedness of imperial control over nature and people. Natural sciences and political economy became related. That is, an understanding of nature's laws would help improve the administration of people and things/environment. Botany facilitated improvement ["a commitment to the reform of the world as a whole" p. 104], and improvement by the state justified empire.He seeks to show this by concentration on Kew as a place where science and expansion converged (even while sitting at the very heart of the center. "What matters is Kew as an agent and product of modern history, as a space in which ideas about nature, economy, and legitimate authority interacted with concrete policies over Imperial Britain's nineteenth century." p. xvii. "From the 1780s onwards, however, it became a de facto national collection, to which seeds and bulbs were sent from every part of the world. More strikingly, Kew became a source of plants, and of gardeners, sent outwards to Britain's overseas dominions." p. 108.He offers this summary: "Botanical knowledge, linked to the global transit of exotic commodities, had come to symbolize an imperium both rational and divine." p. 25."Systems of classification, as much as sextants and chronometers, allowed Europeans to perceive themselves as the magistrates of Providence, equipped by their knowledge of its laws with responsibilities over all of creation." p. 45. This knowledge justified their dominion. "British `improvers' moved, at home and abroad, in the faith that they ultimately knew better than those on the ground. Their confidence depended, in part, on the assumption that they possessed a more profound understanding of how Nature worked." p. 90.
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