Collecting “Queer” Specimens: Settler Botany and Male Intimacies in Interwar Hawaii

Lunchtime Lectures
Wednesday, May 12, 2021
1:00 p.m.–1:45 p.m. EDT (UTC -4)

This talk explored the relationship between the natural sciences and settler colonialism, using the case of American botany in the Territory of Hawaii from the 1920s to the 1940s. In particular, postdoctoral fellow Ashanti Shih focused on a white American botanist and his Asian and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) collecting partners, who worked and lived in intimate arrangements to turn Hawaiian plants into scientific commodities.


Ashanti Shih headshot

Courtesy of Ashanti Shih

About the Speaker

Ashanti Shih is a postdoctoral fellow in the Society of Fellows at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on the 20th-century history of the Pacific and American West, specializing in the critical studies of race, settler colonialism, science, and environment. Shih is currently working on her first book, tentatively titled Invasive Ecologies: Science and Settler Colonialism in Twentieth-Century Hawai‘i. In the fall she will join the environmental studies department at Wellesley College as an Andrew W. Mellon fellow in environmental humanities.

About the Series

Now combined with our Saturday Speaker Series, Lunchtime Lectures take a rigorous and entertaining approach to exploring topics for scholars and anyone interested in stories about the history of science. The talks help expand perceptions of the nature of science and how it’s done. This season, we’re showcasing historians and scientists whose work analyzes the past, present, and future of environmental science.