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Department of History and Philosophy of Science


The Greenhouse is a meeting place for students and researchers interested in the history and sociology of plants, food, agriculture and environment to explore how science and technology shape what we grow and eat. The regular programme of papers and discussions is curated in conjunction with the project From Collection to Cultivation, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust.

The reading group is open to all. We meet fortnightly on Mondays, 2pm–3pm, in the HPS Board Room to discuss papers or presentations. Most meetings will be hybrid, with an option to participate via Zoom. Write to to subscribe.

Organised by Helen Anne Curry.

Lent Term 2023

In Lent Term, our reading and conversation will focus on the history of plant pests in relation to human migration and racial categorizations, drawing especially on Jeannie Natsuko Shinozuka, Biotic Borders: Transpacific Plant and Insect Migration and the Rise of Anti-Asian Racism in America, 1890–1950 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022).

30 January: Policing migrant plants, pests, and peoples

Chapter 1, Shinozuka, Biotic Borders ('San José Scale: Contested Origins at the Turn of the Century')

Philip Pauly, 'The Beauty and the Menace of the Japanese Cherry Trees: Conflicting Visions of American Ecological Independence', Isis 87, no. 1 (1996): 51–73

13 February: Japanese farmers the American West

Chapter 2, Shinozuka, Biotic Borders ('Early Yellow Peril vs. Western Menace: Chestnut Blight, Citrus Canker, and PQN 37')

Chapter 4, Cecilia M. Tsu, Garden of the World: Asian Immigrants and the Making of Agriculture in California's Santa Clara Valley (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013) ('Defending the "American Farm Home": Japanese Farm Families and the Anti-Japanese Movement')

27 February: Military mobilization against insect invaders

Chapter 6, Shinozuka, Biotic Borders ('Japanese Beetle Menace: Discovery of the Beetle')

Chapter 7, Edmund Russell, War and Nature: Fighting Humans and Insects with Chemicals from World War I to Silent Spring ('Annihilation, 1943–1945')

13 March: Incarceration and naturalization

Chapter 8, Shinozuka, Biotic Borders ('Yellow Peril No More? National and Naturalized Enemies during World War II')

Wendy Cheng, 'Landscapes of beauty and plunder: Japanese American flower growers and an elite public garden in Los Angeles', Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 38, no. 4 (2020): 699–717