Reproducing Empire, Subverting Hegemony?

Botanic Gardens in Biodiversity Conservation

December 4, 2014

Katja Neves

Botanic gardens are often perceived as quaint institutions that host and display exotic plants for public education and entertainment purposes. Many people think of botanic gardens as living plant museums that attest to earlier times of botanical exploration and scientific discovery. Others see them as sites of respite from the hectic pace of modern living. Ironically, given the highly objectified characteristics of botanic garden natures, many seek these landscapes as a conduit for overcoming human alienation from “nature.” Perhaps for these reasons, for over a century now botanic gardens have become increasingly popular tourist sites, attracting millions of visitors each year. In fact, Dr. Richard Benfield’s research shows that visits to botanic gardens constitute a large percentage of the garden tourism industry, which is, in turn, one of the largest and fastest growing tourism sectors in the world. In the United States alone, “there were an estimated 78 million visitors to U.S. public gardens in a recent year—more than to Las Vegas and Orlando combined.”
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