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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 junction 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 Thursdays, 1–2pm to discuss papers or presentations. We're currently meeting via Zoom, with access information circulated prior to the sessions via our mailing list. Write to us at to subscribe.

Organised by Helen Anne Curry and Jessica J. Lee.

Easter Term 2021

This term's theme is 'Histories of Biotechnology and Agriculture'.

6 May: Seeds and plants as technologies

Federova, Maria. 'Seeds as Technology: The Russian Agricultural Bureau in New York and Soviet Agricultural Modernization, 1921–26.' The Russian Review 80, no. 2 (2021): 209–228.

Berry, Dominic J. 'Plants Are Technologies.' In Histories of Technology, the Environment and Modern Britain, edited by Agar Jon and Ward Jacob, 161–85. London: UCL Press, 2018.

20 May: Political economies of biotechnologies

Holmes, Matthew. 'Somatic Hybridization: The Rise and Fall of a Mid-Twentieth-Century Biotechnology.' Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences 48, no. 1 (2018): 1–23.

Jiang, Lijing. 'The Socialist Origins of Artificial Carp Production in Maoist China.' Science, Technology, and Society 22, no. 1 (2017): 59–77.

3 June: Agricultural technologies and postcolonial resistance

Silva Garzón, Diego and Laura Gutiérrez Escobar. 'Revolturas: resisting multinational seed corporations and legal seed regimes through seed-saving practices and activism in Colombia.' The Journal of Peasant Studies 47, no. 4 (2020): 674–699.

Saraiva, Tiago. 'California Cloning in French Algeria: Rooting Pieds Noirs and Uprooting Fellahs in the Orange Groves of the Mitidja.' In How Knowledge Moves, edited by John Krige, 95–119. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2019.

17 June: GM crops and pop culture

For this session, we'll be watching some video clips together and talking about (the history of) celebrity takes on GM crops. No preparation necessary!