Juliane Braun deposited Bioprospecting Breadfruit: Imperial Botany, Transoceanic Relations, and the Politics of Translation in the group LLC Early American on MLA Commons 1 month, 1 week ago
This article traces the breadfruit tree’s strange career as an eighteenth-century superfood, its journey from the Pacific world to the Caribbean islands, and the rhetorical practices, epistemological slippages, and linguistic permutations that undergirded these developments. Comparing indigenous, Spanish, English, Dutch, French, and US-American descriptions of the breadfruit tree, the essay argues not only for a more sustained engagement with multilingual and comparative sources, but also examines the role of translation in eighteenth-century natural history writings. Translation was crucial not only for the transmission of information from one language to another, but also as a means to modify, correct, or even manipulate the latest scientific findings. This article focuses on the ramifications of “motivated mistranslation” for European and early American empire building and underscores the role of natural history in facilitating and sustaining transoceanic plantation economies.