Cultivating soils and souls: the jesuit garden in the Americas

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(Project) M.A.
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Within less than a decade of its founding in 1540, the Society of Jesus sent missionaries to evangelize in the Americas. For Jesuits in the New World, cultivating soils and souls were integrated projects. As a metaphor, the garden represented civilization and Christianity. As a physical space, the garden provided a means to control the natural world of the Indies. Once established, gardens often became critical sites in the transfer of botanical knowledge around the world. The Jesuit pharmaceutical gardens of San Pablo in Lima Peru and San Miguel in Santiago de Chile provide a window into the role Jesuit gardens played in the collecting and disseminating of biota and information throughout Spanish America and the early modern world. These gardens became sites of science and critical mechanisms in the global exchange of botanical, medical, and pharmaceutical knowledge.
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