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Prof. Pratik Chakrbarti will explore how the complex world of nature came to define the intellectual pursuits of British natural history.

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From the seventeenth century, Europeans engaged with a complex world of nature in the colonies in Asia, Africa and America in their pursuit of plants, minerals and human labour. That particular history of nature is often lost in the conventional narratives of natural history, which focuses on the emergence of the empirical vision of nature based on experimental, observational, and empirical methods. Drawing from British imperial history in South Asia and the Caribbean, this talk explores the alternative makings of natural history.

Pratik Chakrabarti is Chair in history of science and medicine and Director of the Centre for the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology (CHSTM), University of Manchester. He has contributed widely to the history of science, medicine, and imperialism from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. His publications include, Western Science in Modern India; Metropolitan Methods, Colonial Practices (2004), Materials and Medicine; Trade, Conquest and Therapeutics in the Eighteenth Century (2010), Bacteriology in British India; Laboratory Medicine and the Tropics (2012), Medicine and Empire 1600-1960 (2014). His recent monograph is Inscriptions of Nature: Geology and the Naturalization of Antiquity (2020).

Lead image: A View of the Botanic Garden House and Reach by James Baillie Fraser. From ''Views of Calcutta and its Environs". Fraser (1783-1856) Credit: British Library/ Shelfmark: X644(4) Item number: Plate 4.


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