When Pollen Became Poison

Gregg Mitman

in The Moral Authority of Nature

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2003 | ISBN: 9780226136806
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226136820 | DOI:
When Pollen Became Poison

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This chapter investigates the shifting geographies of place, disease, and moral authority of nature in ragweed's nomadic wandering across the boundaries of rural and urban, native and immigrant, pure and polluted, nature and civilization. In transgressing its natural boundaries, ragweed had become, in the urban spaces it inhabited, a symptom of the moral depravity and waste brought about by modern civilization. Neither wild nor domesticated, it merited no place in the cultivated spaces of the city. Through great effort and expense, public health officials, sanitary engineers, and biomedical researchers sought to control or eliminate ragweed from the urban environment, to push it back to its benign, even valued, place in nature.

Keywords: ragweed; natural boundaries; modern civilization; public health; biomedical research; cultural geography

Chapter.  10831 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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