Home / Events / Xan Chacko, "When life gives you lemons: the material publication of Frank N. Meyer (1875-1919)"

Xan Chacko, "When life gives you lemons: the material publication of Frank N. Meyer (1875-1919)"

STS/CSIS Food for Thought Event
When Feb 10, 2015
from 12:10 PM to 01:30 PM
Where SS&H 1246
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Lunch provided. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.

In the early twentieth century, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded agricultural explorations with the aim of retrieving plant specimens for introduction into the agricultural landscape and hybridisation projects. One such agricultural explorer, noted for his eponymous lemon, was Frank Nicholas Meyer, an immigrant from the Netherlands whose expeditions in Asia have brought us celebrated fruit, toxic weeds, and possibly even Chestnut blight. Part travel journal, part natural history, the four volume collection of Meyer’s letters (1902–1918), which are at the Special Collection of the Shields Library at University of California, Davis, embody his encounters as a border crosser. Reading Meyer’s letters complicates our understanding of both scientific and agricultural knowledge production and epitomizes a transition in the history of the exploration and exploitation of the far east. Meyer’s vision for his fruit trees, laden with promise and productivity in their projected American environments yield insight into the construction of Far Eastern cultural geographies as seen through the lens of political economy, pomological history and exploration. 

Xan Sarah Chacko (xschacko@ucdavis.edu) is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Studies Graduate Group at UC Davis with designated emphases in Feminist Theory and Research, and Science and Technology Studies. By looking at the material traces of plants found in gardens, art, and seed banks, Xan investigates the narratives of species and type specimens in historical and contemporary scientific research, to propose a re-envisioning of credit in the traditional forms of authority in science. Xan has a dual-BA in Physics and Women's Studies from Wellesley College and an joint MSc. in the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine from Imperial and University Colleges, London. Before starting the PhD, Xan worked at the intersection of the public and science at the Royal Institution of Great Britain and is committed to increasing the awareness and appreciation of science, especially on issues relating to plants.

Note this is our Food for Thought format where everyone is asked to read a paper ahead of time. After you RSVP, you will be emailed with the paper to be discussed.
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