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Speaker: Catherine van Olden (Glasgow School of Art)

Japanese Knotweed was introduced to Europe by Von Siebold (1796-1866), a German physician, traveller and botanist, who collected and cultivated Asian plant species, encouraging their transplantation in colder, northern climates. Now, Knotweed is considered a hostile invader, threatening the foundations of houses, challenging native species and defying statutory controls to contain its agency. My project considers Knotweed as an agent of changing attitudes in the anthropocene, charting its course from Orient to Occident, colonized to colonizer and revealing how agency in non-human species might resist commodification and exploitation. Exploring changing responses to Japanese Knotweed since its introduction to Europe in the 19th century, this research asks if art can shift the public perception of Japanese Knotweed as a hostile invader. 

Catherine von Olden is a PhD research student in the School of Design at Glasgow School of Art. 

IHR Seminar SeriesHistory of Gardens and Landscapes