Local, Material, Interdependent: Rumphius’ Amboinsch Kruid-boek as Matter of Ecocriticism
Keywords:Ambonese Herbal, botany, ecocriticism, materiality, Rumphius, Amboinsch Kruid-boek, plantkunde, materialiteit
The Ambonese Herbal by Rumphius, produced in the late seventeenth century, has been analysed mostly within the history of science. Yet the interdependency of locality, local and localised material, as well as Rumphius’ practices of researching and writing represented in the text, make it matter of ecocriticism as well. This paper analyses the relation between the ecological and the social in the Kruid-boek as a Dutch colonial text in the time of bio-prospecting by concentrating on the materiality of plants and landscape. It becomes clear how the production of the Herbal depended on the colonial regime, for example in the affirmation of social order through material practices. At the same time, craftsmanship and communication were attached to specific places on the islands and might not be commodified. Furthermore, plant matter transcended boundaries between the animate and inanimate and the construction of cultured and wild spaces.