Winter 2019 HC 232H: Ethnobotany and the Atlantic Exchange

Winter Term, 2018-2019

Professor: Daphne Gallagher

4.00 credits

  • CRN 23362: Monday & Wednesday, 12:00 – 13:20 @ ANS 193
  • CRN 23366: Monday & Wednesday, 14:00 – 15:20 @ ANS 193

Over the past 500 years, the large-scale transfer of plants between Africa, Europe, and the Americas has profoundly impacted the foods people eat and the environments in which they live. Part of a larger movement of people, goods, diseases, animals, technologies, and ideas known as the Atlantic Exchange, these plants included staple grains such maize, delicacies such as chocolate, and critical medicines such as cinchona (quinine). Demonstrating the innovation and resilience of indigenous knowledge, people throughout the Atlantic World integrated new plants into cultural systems and adapted rituals, recipes, and agricultural practices to new and transformed environmental settings.

With a focus on case studies from Africa and the African diaspora, this course will examine the pathways, processes and events by which plant exchange and adoption occurred and consider how the history of the Atlantic Exchange influences contemporary concerns surrounding issues such as conservation, agriculture, and bioprospecting. Students will also gain a basic introduction to ethnobotany as both an historical and ethnographic discipline and become familiar with the methods and research questions of scholars in these fields.