Benjamin Breen F'14

Benjamin  Breen
Assistant Professor
Society of Fellows
University of California, Santa Cruz

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2014
Doctoral Candidate
University of Texas at Austin
Tropical Transplantations: Drugs, Nature, and Globalization in the Portuguese and British Empires, 1640-1750

In the hybrid colonial spaces of Amazonia and Portuguese Africa, figures such as African slaves, indigenous Brazilians, and mestiço healers emerged as alternatives to European medical practitioners. This dissertation analyzes scientific correspondence, government memoranda, pharmacopeias, Inquisition trials, and travel narratives to trace the circulation of tropical drugs and pharmaceutical knowledge in the 1640-1755 period. It argues that this earliest phase of the global drug trade entangled the inhabitants of the Portuguese imperial world with natural philosophers, merchants, and medical consumers in an expanding British empire. This transimperial trade in tropical drugs contributed to both Western science and global trade in ways that scholars have yet to fully recognize.