Botanical Ontologies: A Cross-Disciplinary Forum On Human-Plant Relationships

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH), Radcliffe Humanities Building, Oxford

May 16-17, 2014

The inaugural ‘Botanical Ontologies’ conference seeks to bring together
postgraduate students from across the humanities, social sciences, and
biological sciences to critically address, challenge, and rethink the
seemingly simple question: How do we know what we know about plants? The construction of plant knowledge systems is increasingly a matter of interest across a broad range of disciplines, from the ethnosciences to philosophy. By ‘plant knowledge systems’ we refer to the biological, medicinal, social, and cultural information about plants observed, stored, transmitted, and used by humans. Recent questions concerning ‘ontology’ in socio-ecological systems have enlivened these debates. ‘Botanical ontologies’–as we speculatively term them–vary widely, stretching from Linnaean taxonomies to indigenous origin myths, yet regardless of origin they structure the relationships between plants and humans. In this conference we will consider these plant-people interrelationships by bringing into dialogue perspectives and case studies from Anthropology, Archaeology, Biology, Geography & the Environment, History, and Plant Sciences. Far from an academic exercise, this conference contends that discussion about these plant-human relationships go beyond the ephemeral: they are necessary for the preservation (and protection) of local vegetation diversity and the knowledge systems that go with them.

Conference website:

*Deadline for abstracts has been extended to 10 March 2014.*

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