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Organizing the Myriad Beings. From traditional knowledge about plants to the science of botany in China.


Nicholas K. Menzies
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California.

In the 1960s, Joseph Needham asked why China, after being at the forefront of science until perhaps the early Ming dynasty, apparently later fell so far behind the west.  ‘Organizing the Myriad Beings’ looks at Needham’s question through the story of how traditional knowledge of plants in China gave way to scientific botany over a period of about a hundred years between 1850 – 1950. ‘Organizing the Myriad Beings’ traces the history of one species in particular, the camellia, to illustrate what made scientific botany different from traditional knowledge about plants. It tells how early botanists in China found themselves moving between alternative ways of observing, classifying and describing the world at a time of profound political and cultural change. Their story encourages us to reflect about the different ways in which people make sense of the diversity of “the myriad beings” in the natural world that surrounds us.

Event detail:

Where: Glam, No.5 The Bund (corner of Guangdong Lu) 广东路20号(外滩5号)7楼
When: 1st Dec 2018 – 4 pm
Tickets: 100 RMB/50 RMB