All Flesh Is Grass: A Political Ecology of Agrarian Improvement in Britain’s Settler Empire, 1780-1850


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




What can clover and cowpats tell us about the history of settler colonialism? This project examines the fate of grass-centric “Enlightened” mixed-husbandry in Britain’s new settler colonies from 1780 to 1850 as British agrarian improvers, colonial planners, and settlers turned from the well-watered, well-manured fields of the British Isles and encountered the marginal soils and climates of New South Wales and Cape Colony. The dissertation explores networks of agricultural science attempting to orchestrate agrarian development in these antipodean settlements at the end of the eighteenth century and stresses the importance of European grasses and legumes in colonial schemes to curb unsustainable, environmentally-destructive farming practices and settlement patterns. It contends that both environmental and political conditions in these colonies made ecological imperialism much more hard-won—if won at all—than has been previously supposed.