CHAM TALKS 10.02.2023
The construction of a new botanical knowledge in the sixteenth century, by Teresa Nobre de Carvalho


The construction of a new botanical knowledge in the sixteenth century,


The sixteenth century saw an explosion of knowledge about the botanical world. Portuguese and Spanish explorers brought back new plants that, on the one hand, expanded the knowledge about global biodiversity and, on the other hand, motivated Europeans to learn more about their own flora. CHAM researcher Teresa Nobre de Carvalho talks about this process and the various methodologies adopted for the description of plants from different regions of the globe. While with Asian spices, work was done to validate, expand or correct the knowledge in circulation since Antiquity, in the case of plants from the American continent, the novelty was absolute and required the creation of new textual and graphic descriptions. Europe adopted some American plants, such as beans, corn, sweet potato, and sisal, showing their interest in their everyday use. Teresa Nobre de Carvalho particularly addresses the circulation of the pineapple, a fruit that surprises with its spectacularity and unusual taste and that, crossing the oceans, spreads from Brazil and the New World to other tropical and sub-tropical spaces, such as the African coast, Goa and Baçaim, China or the Philippines.

Teresa Nobre de Carvalho is an Integrated Researcher at CHAM - Center for Humanities, where she is developing a post-doctoral research project that analyzes the acquisition, appropriation, and circulation of knowledge related to pineapple from the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries (with a grant from FCT). In her research, she examines the scientific, environmental, and cultural challenges posed by the transcontinental acclimatization of this fruit. Teresa Carvalho holds a degree in Agricultural Engineering, a master's degree in Integrated Pest Management, and a PhD in History and Philosophy of Sciences, with a thesis on the impact of Garcia de Orta's Colóquios dos Simples e Drogas e Cousas Medicinais da Índia on the science of the Modern Age. She has collaborated in the organization and curation of different exhibitions, such as "360° - Ciência Descoberta" (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2013); "As flores do Imperador. Do Bolbo ao tapete" (Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, 2018); and "O mundo visto dos Oceanos: a primeira viagem à volta do mundo traçada pelas colecções da Sociedade de Geografia de Lisboa" (Geographical Society of Lisbon, 2019).


The interview is conducted by Helena Castro.



Isabel Araújo Branco (CHAM)