Minakshi Menon – Orientalism, Language and Botanical Knowledge-Making: William Jones in Bengal, 1784-1794
History and Philosophy of Science
Histoire et philosophie des sciences
Winter 2010 Series / Série d’hiver 2010
Do join us for the last talk of the academic year, this Thursday (April 15), at 3pm, in the Don Bates room in 3647 Peel. All welcome.
La dernière communication de cette année universitaire sera ce jeudi, 15 avril, à 15h, dans la salle Don Bates, à 3647 Peel. Ouvert à tou(te)s.
Thursday, 15 April, 3pm
Minakshi Menon (UC San Diego)
Orientalism, Language and Botanical Knowledge-Making: William Jones in Bengal, 1784-1794
What was colonial botany as a form of knowledge? How did it construct its objects? Were its objects different from plant-objects constructed by European taxonomical systems? This paper examines the botanical researches of the British Orientalist Sir William Jones (1746-1794) in order to answer these questions. It focuses on Jones’s plant descriptions laid out in three botanical essays, The Design of a Treatise on the Plants of India; On the Spikenard of the Ancients; and Botanical Observations on Select Indian Plants. In these essays he combined close attention to Indian languages with Linnaean classification and chemical analysis to devise a method to locate and identify plants in their Indian milieu. The paper argues that Jones’s plant descriptions were of a piece with his Orientalism, itself understood as a form of eighteenth-century sensationalist epistemology.
Don Bates Seminar Room (room 101)
Social Studies of Medicine Building,
3647 rue Peel (above Dr Penfield).
For more information, see http://www.mcgill.ca/hpsc/lectures/