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"Linnaean traditions? School botany and biological recording"

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Linnaean traditions? School botany and biological recording

When the Swedish Museum of Natural History was founded in 1819, its directors appealed to “the ancient love of science” of the Swedish people, representing their country as the “native land of modern natural history”. More than a century later, plant geographer Eric Hultén claimed that love of botany was a “typically Nordic trait”, with reference to the “Linnaean heritage”. And as the tercentenary of Linnaeus’s birth draws near, “Linnaean traditions” turn up all over the place.

In a suspiciously elegant way, the establishment of a science curriculum in Swedish primary and secondary schools coincides with the first modern Linnaean celebrations in 1878. My aim in this paper is to look at school botany and the importance of collecting in the curriculum, beginning with handbooks, fieldguides and manuals developed for these purposes – which later develop into adult education and study circle materials used in modern biological surveys. This tangible, often compulsory botanical practice is a way of tracing, and questioning, supposedly Linnaean traditions.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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