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Plants and Empire: Colonial Bioprospecting in the Atlantic world

"[Londa Schiebinger's] study seeks to understand the production of culturally induced scientific ignorance. 'Ignorance is often not merely the absence of knowledge,' she argues, 'but an outcome of cultural and political struggle.' In particular she seeks to understand how and why knowledge of West Indian abortifacients* was not transferred to 18th-century Europe. The book explores the history of the silences, struggles and structures that prevented this transfer. … Her study of scientific ignorance demonstrates that understanding what scientists do not know is just as important as understanding what they do know."

*An abortifacient is a drug or agent used to induce abortion.

Link to full book review in Science

Reference: Science 307, 210 (2005)