Plants in Africa and the Global South: Multi-Species Materialities, Ecologies, and Aesthetics (MMEA)

This working  group brings together researchers interested in plants in Africa and the Global South to discuss methodological questions concerning plant research in the humanities and social sciences on the African continent. Mmea is the Kiswahili word for "plant." What methods are promising for studying plant epistemologies in Africa? What methods are suitable for working across disciplines, such as the  natural sciences and the humanities and social sciences, but also with disciplines outside of the academy, including Indigenous knowledge systems? What are the methodological specificities of doing plant research in the Global South? Which methods are useful for research practices that are attentive to the practices of plant practitioners and research that is committed to social justice and climate justice? What methodological innovations come out of plant research concerning interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches, as well as approaches that incorporate artistic research? What specific forms for documenting, presenting and communicating plant research evolve in these activities? The working group is concerned with plants in diverse contexts and disciplines, including but not limited to Indigenous knowledge systems, botany and plant sciences, food, medicine, horticulture, and plant collecting institutions like herbaria and botanical gardens.

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Consortium Respectful Behavior Policy

Participants at Consortium activities will treat each other with respect and consideration to create a collegial, inclusive, and professional environment that is free from any form of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.

Participants will avoid any inappropriate actions or statements based on individual characteristics such as age, race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, nationality, political affiliation, ability status, educational background, or any other characteristic protected by law. Disruptive or harassing behavior of any kind will not be tolerated. Harassment includes but is not limited to inappropriate or intimidating behavior and language, unwelcome jokes or comments, unwanted touching or attention, offensive images, photography without permission, and stalking.

Participants may send reports or concerns about violations of this policy to

Upcoming Meetings

  • Thursday, December 9, 2021 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST

    West Africa Session:
    Amanda Logan (Northwestern University): Archaeobotanical Evidence of Food and Crafting from Oduduwa College, Ile-Ife, Nigeria
    Chioma Ngonadi (University of Nigeria, Nsukka/University of Cambridge): Ancient Food Practices and Pottery Production in Southeastern Nigeria
    Orijemie Emuobosa Akpo (University of Ibadan): From the Hills to the Valley: Changing Food Production Practices among the Tiv in Central Nigeria

  • Thursday, January 13, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST

    Jennifer Leetsch (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn): Mary Seacole's Plant Matter(s): Vegetal Entanglements of the Black Atlantic in Wonderful Adventures of Mrs. Seacole in Many Lands (1857)
    Lidia Ponce de la Vega (McGill University): The Travel Stories of Plants in the "Biodiversity Heritage Library": Colonization and (In)Visibility of the Global South in Human-Plants Relationships

  • Thursday, February 10, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST

    Sarah Longair (University of Lincoln): The Coco-de-Mer in the 19th-Century Indian Ocean World: Connections, Conservation and Colonialism

  • Thursday, March 10, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EST

    Aqsa Mengal (Lahore University), Dania Nasir (Lahore University), Kulsoom Din Malik (Lahore University) and Moiz Abdul Majid (Tufts University UEP): Nature in the City: Memory, Scandal and Leisure in Lahore's Urban Parks

  • Thursday, April 14, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT

    Cecylia Mgombele (University of Dar es Salaam), Sinyati Robinson Mark (University of Dar es Salaam) and Sarah Walshaw (Simon Fraser University): Human-Plant Relationships in Tanzania's Past: Changes, Choices, Challenges - and Specifically the Changes Brought with the Caravan Trade

  • Thursday, May 12, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT

    Anna Arabindan-Kesson (Princeton University) in conversation with Annalee Davis: Sites of Healing: Plantation Histories and Histories of Care in the Work of Annalee Davis

  • Thursday, June 9, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT

    Melanie Boehi (University of the Witwatersrand), Phakamani m’Africa Xaba (Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden), and Luciano Concheiro San Vicente (The National Autonomous University of Mexico): Reimagining Botanical Gardens and Urban Parks in a Time of Crisis

  • Thursday, July 14, 2022 10:00 am to 11:30 am EDT

    Maxmillian J Chuhila (University of Dar es Salaam): Green Imperialism and Biomedical Campaigns in Colonial Tanganyika

Past Meetings

  • November 11, 2021

    Elaine Ayers (New York University): Packed in Moss: Bryology and the Circulation of Plants in Nineteenth-Century Colonial Natural History

  • October 14, 2021

    Jonathan Robins (Michigan Technological University): Misreading Africa’s Oil Palm Landscapes: Colonial Legacies in Agriculture, Ecology, and Agroforestry

Group Conveners

  • Abidemi.Babatunde's picture

    Abidemi Babatunde Babalola

    Abidemi Babatunde Babalola is Smuts Research Fellow in African Studies at the University of Cambridge and an expert in cultural heritage, West African archaeology, early glass production, innovation practices, early technologies, early urbanism and complex societies with a particular focus on Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He received his BA and MA in archaeology from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria and holds a PhD in Anthropology from Rice University, Houston, with a specialization in African Archaeology. He was the McMillian Steward Fellow at the Hutchins Center for African and African & American Research and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Anthropology Harvard University and his research has furthermore been supported by the University College London in Qatar (UCLQ), the Corning Museum, and the Archaeology and Heritage Centre of the Cyprus Institute, among other institutions. His research includes human-environment interaction in terms of the exploitation of vegetation/plant resources for fuel in pyrotechnological activities, and his research on the archaeology of glass in Sub-Saharan African received the Discovery Award of Shanghai Archaeological Forum in 2019.


  • vera-simone.schulz's picture

    Vera-Simone Schulz

    Vera-Simone Schulz is an art historian and postdoctoral research associate at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz–Max-Planck-Institut, where she is working at the crossroads of Islamic, African and European art histories and on her habilitation project Mangrove Aesthetics in Coastal East Africa: Archipelagic Thinking and Transcultural Art Histories. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and her research has been supported by the German Academic Scholarship Foundation, the German Research Foundation, the German Academic Exchange Service, and the Gerda Henkel Foundation, among others. In the academic year 2021-2022, she will be a research fellow of the 4A LAB program “4A Laboratory: Art Histories, Archaeologies, Anthropologies, Aesthetics,” a cooperation between the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz, together with Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the Forum Transregionale Studien for the annual theme “plants.”


63 Members