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Botanical Exchange and the Horticultural Trade in the Age of Imperialism and Industrialization

Following the relevant publication of Alfred W. Crosby’s «Ecological Imperialism» in 1986, historians have explored the environmental degradation, brought about by the European expansion in Neo-European (American, Australian, South African) and tropical regions. Up to date, however, the opposite process, that is, the impact of ‹ecological imperialism› on the metropolitan centers of Empires (Europe, Japan) has been neglected. This panel is about the activities of botanists, the state, and ecological movements in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The panel not only seeks to make the comparison, but also shows the direct connections between Europe and Japan: the transfer of botanical knowledge and horticultural technologies (the rise of geobotany, classifications of plants and plant species, climate control in greenhouses), the horticultural trade with foreign and native plants, shifting consumer tastes (Asian shrubberies, American conifers), urban planning (parks and communal gardens), the state-supported exploitation and preservation of natural resources abroad and at home, and shifting attitudes towards the natural world in the age of imperialism and industrialization.

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