Kuang-chi Hung

Ph.D. Candidate History of Science Harvard University

2010 to 2011
Dissertation Research Fellow

Bridging the Disjunction: Asa Gray and the Botanical Exchanges between East Asia and North America

Abstract. My project is about Asa Gray and his influences on the botanical exchanges between East Asia and North America between the 1850s and the 1920s. In 1858, Gray proposed that there had been floristic affinities between the flora of East Asia and that of eastern North America. These unexpected affinities, particularly in light of the vast distance between the two regions, served as strong proof of evolution by natural selection on the one hand and as a catalyst for the botanical exchanges between the East and the West on the other. My dissertation will show plants as a cultural bridge among systems of thought and as objects of botanical and cultural inquiries. The collections of the Academy of Natural Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the University of Pennsylvania will help to clarify central themes in my dissertation and equip me with a broader vision to engage with the materials housed in East Asia. Read Kuang-chi's report on his PACHS-sponsored research here.