Maria Sibylla Merian and the Crisis of the Plantation Domestic Interior
This lecture considers the work of the eighteenth-century naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian, who travelled to Suriname to study butterflies and moths. Merian focused on insects to comprehend the human, and particularly reproduction. Yet during her time in Suriname, her work engages with the crisis of reproduction, privacy, domesticity, and kinship within the economy of the plantation. This lecture considers the impossible-to-figure yet present interiors of the Dutch plantation in Merian's work, which make palpable the fragility of mythologies around privacy in modern constructions of self, and the complicated legacy of privacy within histories of reproductive rights.
This lecture is free and open to the public.