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Ashanti Shih, Department of History, University of Southern California
"Plucking Flowers, Despoiling Islands: Settler Colonial Botany in Interwar Hawai‘i"
This talk explores the relationship between the natural sciences and settler colonialism, using the case of American botany in the Territory of Hawai‘i from the 1920s to the 1940s. In particular, I focus on a white American botanist and his Asian and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) collecting partners, who worked and lived in intimate arrangements to turn Hawaiian plants into scientific commodities. By centering their complicated relationships with each other and with Indigenous land, I propose a different way of reading encounters between Native peoples and western science: through the lenses of territory, erasure, and refusal.