WILLIAM BEINART ON HIS BOOK: PRICKLY PEAR: THE SOCIAL HISTORY OF A PLANT IN THE EASTERN CAPE
While there are many studies of the global influence of crops and plants, this is perhaps the first social history based around a plant in South Africa. Plants are not quite historical actors in their own right, but their properties and potential help to shape human history. Plants such as the prickly pear tend to be invisible to those who do not use them, or at least on the peripheries of people’s consciousness. This book explains why they were not peripheral to many people in the Eastern Cape and why a wild and sometimes invasive cactus from Mexico, that found its way around the world over 200 years ago, remains important to African women in shacks and small towns. The book also addresses central problems around concepts of biodiversity.
Date: 8 March 2012
Venue: WISER Seminar Room, 6th Floor, Richard Ward Building, East Campus