Plants in Africa and the Global South: Multi-Species Materialities, Ecologies, and Aesthetics (MMEA)
This working group brings together researchers interested in plants in Africa and the Global South to discuss methodological questions concerning plant research in the humanities and social sciences on the African continent. Mmea is the Kiswahili word for "plant." What methods are promising for studying plant epistemologies in Africa? What methods are suitable for working across disciplines, such as the natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences, but also with disciplines outside of the academy, including Indigenous knowledge systems? What are the methodological specificities of doing plant research in the Global South? Which methods are useful for research practices that are attentive to the practices of plant practitioners and research that is committed to social justice and climate justice? What methodological innovations come out of plant research concerning interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, as well as approaches that incorporate artistic research? What specific forms for documenting, presenting and communicating plant research evolve in these activities? The working group is concerned with plants in diverse contexts and disciplines, including but not limited to Indigenous knowledge systems, botany and plant sciences, food, medicine, horticulture, and plant collecting institutions like herbaria and botanical gardens.
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Thursday, June 8, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT
Lindsay Wells (The Getty Research Institute): From Passionflowers to Pelargoniums: South American and African Plants in Victorian Art
Thursday, July 13, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT
Thursday, September 14, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT
Maura Flannery (St. John's University, NY / A.C. Moore Herbarium, University of South Carolina, Columbia): Plants That Aren't There: The Paucity of the Botanical Record for Many Parts of Africa
Thursday, October 12, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT
Thursday, November 9, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST
James Wachira (Universität Bayreuth): tba
Thursday, December 14, 2023 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST
May 11, 2023
Janet Marion Purdy (Art Institute of Chicago, University of Chicago): Jackfruit, Jani, Teak, and Tamarind: Botanical Imagery, Wood Types, and the Significance of Wood in Carved Zanzibar Doors
July 14, 2022
Maxmillian J Chuhila (University of Dar es Salaam): Green Imperialism and Biomedical Campaigns in Colonial Tanganyika
postponed to autumn 2022!
June 9, 2022
Melanie Boehi (University of the Witwatersrand), Phakamani m’Africa Xaba (Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden), and Luciano Concheiro San Vicente (The National Autonomous University of Mexico): Reimagining Botanical Gardens and Urban Parks in a Time of Crisis
May 12, 2022
Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Princeton University) in conversation with Annalee Davis: Sites of Healing: Plantation Histories and Histories of Care in the Work of Annalee Davis
April 14, 2022
Cecylia Mgombele (University of Dar es Salaam), Sinyati Robinson Mark (University of Dar es Salaam) and Sarah Walshaw (Simon Fraser University): Human-Plant Relationships in Tanzania's Past: Changes, Choices, Challenges - and Specifically the Changes Brought with the Caravan Trade
March 10, 2022
Aqsa Mengal (Lahore University), Dania Nasir (Lahore University), Kulsoom Din Malik (Lahore University) and Moiz Abdul Majid (Tufts University UEP): Nature in the City: Memory, Scandal and Leisure in Lahore's Urban Parks
February 10, 2022
Sarah Longair (University of Lincoln): The Coco-de-Mer in the 19th-Century Indian Ocean World: Connections, Conservation and Colonialism
January 13, 2022
Jennifer Leetsch (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn): Mary Seacole's Plant Matter(s): Vegetal Entanglements of the Black Atlantic in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857)
Lidia Ponce de la Vega (McGill University): The Travel Stories of Plants in the "Biodiversity Heritage Library": Colonization and (In)Visibility of the Global South in Human-Plants Relationships
December 9, 2021
West Africa Session:
Amanda Logan (Northwestern University): Archaeobotanical Evidence of Food and Crafting from Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
Chioma Ngonadi (University of Nigeria, Nsukka/University of Cambridge): Ancient Food Practices and Pottery Production in Southeastern Nigeria
Orijemie Emuobosa Akpo (University of Ibadan): From the Hills to the Valley: Changing Food Production Practices among the Tiv in Central Nigeria
November 11, 2021
Elaine Ayers (New York University): Packed in Moss: Bryology and the Circulation of Plants in Nineteenth-Century Colonial Natural History
Abidemi Babatunde Babalola
Abidemi Babatunde Babalola is Smuts Research Fellow in African Studies at the University of Cambridge and an expert in cultural heritage, West African archaeology, early glass production, innovation practices, early technologies, early urbanism and complex societies with a particular focus on Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He received his BA and MA in archaeology from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and holds a PhD in Anthropology from Rice University, Houston, with a specialization in African Archaeology. He was the McMillian Steward Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African & American Research and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Anthropology Harvard University and his research has furthermore been supported by the University College London in Qatar (UCLQ), the Corning Museum, and the Archaeology and Heritage Centre of the Cyprus Institute, among other institutions. His research includes human-environment interaction in terms of the exploitation of vegetation/plant resources for fuel in pyrotechnological activities, and his research on the archaeology of glass in Sub-Saharan African received the Discovery Award of Shanghai Archaeological Forum in 2019.
Vera-Simone Schulz is an art historian working at the crossroads of African, Islamic and European art histories and postdoctoral research associate at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz–Max-Planck-Institut in Florence, Italy. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and her research has been supported by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, the German Research Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Gerda Henkel Foundation, and the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, among others. While her first book on Florence and Tuscany in their Mediterranean and global entanglements (in preparation for publication) already went beyond the common geographical frameworks of art historical studies concerned with Italy and the Islamic world by bringing also material from Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Kongo and coastal East Africa into this discussion, her habilitation and second book project moves from Florence as one of the traditional centers of art history to Eastern Africa, thus contributing to the overcoming of traditional notions of periphery and center in the discipline of art history. She was the 2022 CIRN Sanpaolo Visiting Fellow at CRASSH at the University of Cambridge where she was also a postdoctoral fellow at Wolfson College, and she is currently a MuseumsLab fellow and visiting fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.