Event Date: 6 December 2011
Wallich and Indian Natural History:
Collection Dispersal and the Cultivation of Knowledge
David Arnold (Department of History, University of Warwick)
Nathaniel Wallich and the Natural History of India
Abstract: Nathaniel Wallich occupies a critical place in the history of nineteenth-century botany and the colonial investigation of Indiaís natural history. Despite being Danish by birth, he became superintendent of the East India Companyís botanic garden in Calcutta in 1815 and for three decades was a central figure in the scientific establishment in India. Well-connected internationally, a leading collector and disseminator of botanical specimens and plant knowledge from South and Southeast Asia, Wallichís career was also one of frustration and failure to achieve the lasting recognition his intellect, perseverance and opportunity seemingly deserved.
Biography: David Arnold has recently retired as Professor of Asian and Global History at the University of Warwick. He has written extensively on the history of science and medicine in British India, including the role of botany. He has considered the importance of Nathaniel Wallich in two works: The Tropics and the Traveling Gaze: India, Landscape, and Science, 1800-1856 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2006), and ëPlant Capitalism and Company Science: The Indian Career of Nathaniel Wallichí, Modern Asian Studies, 45: 5, 2008, pp. 899-928.