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Prickly Pear: A Social History of a Plant in the Eastern Cape

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Prickly Pear: A Social History of a Plant in the Eastern Cape

Автор: William Beinart

Длина: 478 стр.6 ч


While there are many studies of the global influence of crops and plants, this is perhaps the first social history based on a plant in South Africa. Plants are not quite historical actors in their own right, but their properties and potential help to shape human history. In turn, the trail of the prickly pear in South Africa has been profoundly affected by the plant’s biological characteristics. The central tension at the heart of this social history concerns different and sometimes conflicting human views of the prickly pear. Some accept or enjoy its presence while others wish to eradicate it. The plant, as the book illustrates, became a scourge to commercial livestock farmers, but for impoverished rural and small town communities of the Eastern Cape it was a godsend. Debates about the prickly pear have played out in unexpected ways over the last century and more. This book explains why plants such as the prickly pear were not peripheral to many people in the Eastern Cape and why a wild, and sometimes invasive, plant from Mexico remains important to African women in shacks and small towns.