Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

History

Advisor

David Troyansky

Committee Members

Helena Rosenblatt

Barbara Naddeo

Elizabeth Heath

Julie Landweber

Subject Categories

European History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Keywords

Eighteenth century, France, Transportation History, Colonial Botany, Garden of the King

Abstract

During the eighteenth century, the Jardin du Roi in Paris was the leading monarchical institution for the collection and categorization of plants. A global network emerged that circulated thousands of plants and seeds. Historians of botany have focused on the Jardin du Roi in Paris and the centralization of the network in the hands of different actors, including André Thouin. The dissertation shifts away from a Paris-centered model to one that includes gardens across the metropole and the colonial world. It focuses on the histories of the botanical gardens in l’Ile de France (Mauritius), Cayenne (French Guiana), Brest, Bordeaux, Paris, and Montpellier. Each garden faced distinct challenges. These challenges were financial and material, and often resulted from both human error and environmental factors. The dissertation focuses not just on the successful transfer of plants and seeds, but on the plants that were lost, forgotten, purposefully ignored, or even stolen. It argues that botanical policies spearheaded during the 1770s remained central during the French Revolution. These policies included the expansion and creation of botanical gardens. And yet, because of repeated failures in transportation and acclimatization, we see severe ruptures in the botanical network.

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