a web of colonial nature

Colonial officers and naturalists shipped seeds and plant samples across empires as part of the searches for revenue potential and commercial exports. Botanists drew natural history illustrations that characterized a territory’s distinct “nature.”

The systematic division of empires into “biomes” rendered the colonized territory readable and governmental. Territories were classified as “climates” to facilitate transplantation of cash crops. This is how the “tropics” was born.

Tropical nature emerged from colonial fictions of pure, untouched land, a terra incognita with endless resources, a “wilderness” that begged colonial officers to push its edges and frontiers.

The tropics were at once a site of natural wealth that yielded resources and riches and a site of pestilences that degenerated health and morality; a postcard picturesque and paradisiacal environment as well as a dangerous landscape that needs to be controlled with pesticides and hygiene (racial, agricultural, etc.).

The plant specimens that were uprooted and seeded changed the ecologies of empires and what later became nation states.

Just like the tropics is populated with wildlife, so are computers: their codes and ports are full of bugs! In the early mechanical computers, it was actual insects that came in the way of the machine’s functioning.

We are cleaning up our code as we detect infestations.

On a different note: Can a cyber-tropical garden push back at the idea of “vast jungles,” endless web scrolls, “Safari” searches, and InternetExploring?