Education

Ph.D., Washington State University, Vancouver 2018

M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2013

B.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2006

 

Research

My research explores new modalities of scientific agency, and, in doing so, uncovers new historical agents during the second age of exploration in the mid-eighteenth century as science drove British expansion more deeply into South and Southeast Asia. The act of collecting and documenting the natural world developed in the eighteenth century into a vast network of late nineteenth-century scientists, who attempted to categorize and understand nature. This process of collecting plants and exchanging knowledge about the natural world included a wide array of individuals. Early British accounts of these interactions included local and indigenous knowledge of nature, but as exploration led to colonial expansion and botany became professionalized as a science, local and indigenous knowledge moved to the periphery of British botanical writing. Cultural exchange between British explorers/collectors and local peoples abounded even though British collectors claimed the act of discovery exclusive to men trained as botanists and not the person who provided the specimens and information. Western scientists determined which people could produce knowledge even though the historical record reveals that collecting, classifying, and discovering the uses of plants was not the discovery of this small handful of men, but the biopiracy of indigenous botanical knowledge and specimens from the region. Each chapter of the study focuses on categories of people such as indigenous agents (guides, collectors, artists), colonial wives, British soldiers, and Chinese immigrant laborers to emphasize the important contributions these people had in creating scientific knowledge about South and Southeast Asia even though they were not technically professional botanists. By analyzing a wide range of sources, my research addresses three major shifts between science and the British Empire: the age of exploration and collection; the age of ordering nature; and the age of extracting resources. The creation of scientific knowledge, while codified as Western knowledge, was really a cultural exchange between British collectors and indigenous experts. This study combines a discussion of exclusion based on colonial categories with a discussion of environment degradation and ecological destruction as a result of exchanging plants across the Empire.

 

Courses

Rhetoric and Writing in History

Global Environmental History

 

Awards

Morris Reed Scholarship

Claudius O. and Mary Johnson Graduate Fellowship

Cooney Family Graduate Fellowship

 

Publication Highlights

“Collection and Discovery: Indigenous Guides and Alfred Russel Wallace in Southeast Asia, 1854-1862.” Journal of Indian Ocean World Studies 1 (2017): 111-129

 

Conference & Presentation Highlights

June 2018: World History Association Conference, Milwaukee, WI. Presented a paper titled “Medicine and Plantations: Colonizing Indigenous Knowledge in Colonial Singapore Print Culture.”

June 2017: World History Association Conference, Boston, MA. Organized a world history panel and presented on a topic from the fifth chapter of my dissertation, “Exclusion and Extraction: Spice Plantations and the Expansion of Empire in the Malay Peninsula (1870s to 1890s).”

April 2016: Southeast Asian Symposium, Oxford University, Oxford, UK. Presented, on an interdisciplinary panel, a chapter of my dissertation, “Colonizing Knowledge: Plant Hunters and Indigenous Guides in Southeast Asia, 1800-1846.”

June 2015: Ecological Networks and Transfers in Colonial Context Conference, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany. Presented a chapter of my dissertation, “Collection and Discovery: Joseph Hooker and the Exclusionary act of ‘Discovery’ in Northern India.”

 

Affiliations

American Historical Association

World History Association