Empire and its Gardens

Course Ref: C3747088
Date: 5 meetings on Mondays starting 25/04/2022. 2:00pm - 4:00pm
Venue: Woodley Hill House
Tutor: Sarah Law
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Fee: £45.00

This course is about botanic gardens of the British Empire, focussing, in particular, on the Royal Botanic Gardens of Peradeniya in the past colony of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). It looks at the origins of colonial botanic gardens; how they developed within an imperial network with the Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew at its hub; and the multiple (and often conflicting) roles that these gardens performed. Plants of empire, as historian David Arnold points out, were situated within a ‘volatile nexus’ of science, commerce, state politics and personal ambition.  Ceylon, situated strategically on the principal sea route between East and West, became a vital node within this Imperial web. Its rich biodiversity and various climatic zones made it important both scientifically and economically for the acclimatisation of new crops. By the second half of the nineteenth century, many garden directors were becoming aware of the environmental costs of plantation agriculture. The rich archival sources for Peradeniya will allow us to examine this so-called ‘Green Imperialism’ through the eyes of its successive directors.

To book a place on this course ring 0300 303 3464 or go to the central WEA website by clicking here.