British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and by Fa-ti Fan

By Fa-ti Fan

within the eighteenth and 19th centuries, Western medical curiosity in China centred totally on normal heritage. famous students in Europe in addition to Westerners in China, together with missionaries, retailers, consular officials, and traveling plant hunters, eagerly investigated the wildlife of China. but regardless of the significance and quantity of this clinical job, it's been fullyyt ignored by means of historians of technological know-how.

This ebook is the 1st accomplished learn in this subject. In a chain of brilliant chapters, Fa-ti Fan examines the examine of British naturalists in China in terms of the heritage of usual background, of empire, and of Sino-Western relatives. the writer supplies a wide ranging view of the way the British naturalists and the chinese language explored, studied, and represented China's wildlife within the social and cultural setting of Qing China.

utilizing the instance of British naturalists in China, the writer argues for reinterpreting the background of normal background, through together with overlooked ancient actors, highbrow traditions, and cultural practices. His method strikes past viewing the historical past of technology and empire inside eu heritage and considers the alternate of rules, aesthetic tastes, fabric tradition, and vegetation and animals in neighborhood and international contexts. This compelling publication presents an cutting edge framework for knowing the formation of medical perform and data in cultural encounters.

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Extra info for British Naturalists in Qing China: Science, Empire, and Cultural Encounter

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The northeastern monsoon began in November, and some of the East Indiamen left by the year’s end, loaded with the prized first spring tea for the eager British market. On the homeward voyage, most ships touched only at the Cape or, later, St. 148 Keeping exotic plants alive on such a long voyage was not a trivial matter left to seasick gardeners; it was a serious problem that also challenged many a learned savant. Live plants as cargo were at the mercy of the ship’s captain and the crew. Some captains were themselves plant lovers and routinely carried their own horticultural souvenirs; they tended to take better care of others’ plants as well.

British visitors in Canton also bought large numbers of living plants and tried to transport them back to Britain. Due to technical difficulties, most plants perished en route. Yet the accumulation of the surviving plants changed the relative positions of British customers and Fa-tee nurserymen. By the 1830s, British visitors to Fa-tee more often than not expressed disappointment. They claimed that they saw few new things. Moreover, the rapid development of British horticulture and the expansion of the British Empire during this period enabled them to possess ornamental flowers from all parts of the world.

To a great extent, the material culture and infrastructure of transportation determined the kinds of Chinese plants that naturalists in Europe received. 157 If the plants and seeds successfully made their way to Britain, they became valued properties of the Horticultural Society, Kew Gardens, commercial nurseries, or whatever institution had financed the project. As with Chinese export art, plants were exotic goods. 159 A price of a few hundred pounds seemed reasonable, given how much labor was necessary to obtain these plants and how desirable Chinese roses, camellias, asters, azaleas, lilies, chrysanthemums, and tree peonies were on the English horticultural market.

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