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Title: “The China of Santa Cruz” : the culture of tea in Maria Graham’s Journal of a voyage to Brazil (Article)
Authors: Jordan, Nicolle
Keywords: Humanities::Literature::English
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Jordan, N. (2020). “The China of Santa Cruz” : the culture of tea in Maria Graham’s Journal of a voyage to Brazil (Article). Studies in Religion and the Enlightenment, 2(1), 42-52.
Journal: Studies in Religion and the Enlightenment 
Abstract: The notion of Brazilian tea may sound like something of an anomaly—or impossibility—given the predominance of Brazilian coffee in our cultural imagination. We may be surprised, then, to learn that King João VI of Portugal and Brazil (1767–1826) pursued a project for the importation, acclimatization, and planting of tea from China in his royal botanic garden in Rio de Janeiro. A curious episode in the annals of colonial botany, the cultivation of a tea plantation in Rio has a short but significant history, especially when read through the lens of Maria Graham’s Journal of a Voyage to Brazil (1824). Graham’s descriptions of the tea garden in this text are brief, but they amplify her thorough-going enthusiasm for the biodiversity and botanical innovation she encountered— and contributed to—in South America. Such enthusiasm for the imperial tea garden echoes Graham’s support for Brazilian independence, and indeed, bolsters it. In 1821 Graham came to Brazil aboard HMS Doris, captained by her husband Thomas, who was charged with protecting Britain’s considerable mercantile interests in the region. As a British naval captain’s wife, she was obliged to uphold Britain’s official policy of strict neutrality. Despite these circumstances, her Journal conveys a pro-independence stance that is legible in her frequent rhapsodies over Brazil’s stunning flora and fauna. By situating Rio’s tea plantation within the global context of imperial botany, we may appreciate Graham’s testimony to a practice of transnational plant exchange that effectively makes her an agent of empire even in a locale where Britain had no territorial aspirations.
ISSN: 2661-3336
DOI: 10.32655/srej.2020.2.1.4
Schools: School of Humanities 
Rights: © 2020 Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, & the Brigham Young University Faculty Publishing Service.
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:Studies in Religion and the Enlightenment

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