Making Mangoes Move

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Jodi Frawley


A landscape of mangoes most likely brings to mind a place in a tropical location. By the end of the nineteenth century that place could have been located on any continent in the world. Mangoes were found in geographic locations; in scientific institutions; as crop plants; and as a backyard trees. Here I trace the movement of mangoes Mangifera indica Linn., focusing on the transnational links formed through colonial botanic gardens in Australia. Botanic gardens were largely understood through their work in
establishing economically successful plantation crops, such as sugar and tea. Mangoes were not a success crop of the age of botanic imperialism. Instead, mangoes were simply one species among the millions of plants that botanic gardens moved in addition to these well known commercial crops. Colonial science moved plants for a myriad of other types of reasons, for ornament, for curiosity, for lesser commercial purposes and
for pure science. In each site the mango emerged, the discourses and technologies that traveled with it changed according to local needs. Indeed, rather than finding mangoes located in one place, tracing their movement demonstrates that this was an extended landscape connecting these things across time and space.

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