• A Botany of Violence
    Pierre Bélanger, Pablo Escudero, and Ghazal Jafari
    Goff Books, 2021
    Pierre Bélanger & Pablo Escudero

Charles Marie de La Condamine, “Cinchona Officinalis,” 1738. Courtesy “Sur l’Arbre du Quinquina”

From germ theory to plantation logic, this book charts the 497-year legacy of global, colonial powers in the violent search for the elusive cinchona plant of South America in the cure for malaria. Stolen by the Jesuits in the seventeenth century, smuggled abroad by Britain and Holland during the eighteenth century, mapped by German explorer Alexander von Humboldt in the nineteenth century, and exploited by global pharma in the twentieth century, the story of the cinchona plant, and of its powerful quinine extract, not only lies at the base of modern civilization but traces the deep roots of Indigenous, territorial resistance back to the Amazon and the Andes. Composed as a geopolitical treatise, this book proposes a countermap to rebuild relations with the cinchona plant—originally known to its peoples as the Quino tree—and to challenge territorial destruction that continues to increase amidst state-sanctioned resource extraction and benevolent conservation.

Pablo Escudero is a farmer, architect, urbanist from the Andean region of Pichincha of Ecuador trained at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Pratt Institute, and the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He is the founding director of La Minga, a collective action group and multimedia platform based in conflicted regions of the Amazon and the Andes that employs cartographic methods and spatial interventions rooted in environmental justice and self-determination. Over the past three decades, he has developed unique expertise in traditional fermentation and harvesting practices, supporting knowledge sharing between Indigenous and Mestizo communities in the Central Andes. Escudero is the Lead Curator & Designer for the first ever National Pavilion of Ecuador (titled The Quino Treaty) at the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale in 2021 with the accompanying UN Assembly for the Future exhibition, both of which will travel to Ecuador in late 2021–22.

Pierre Bélanger is a curator, author, cartographer, and builder cross-trained as a landscape architect and urban planner from the Harvard Graduate School of Design, University of Toronto, and Wageningen University. He is the cofounder and creative director of the nonprofit design research organization OPEN SYSTEMS (OPSYS) focused on the opening of knowledge systems associated with environmental justice for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Confronting the imperialism of state and institution building systems, Bélanger has published several, award-winning volumes respectively counter-mapping states of settler-colonialism, technocratism, and militarism: Extraction Empire (MIT Press, 2018), Landscape as Infrastructure (Taylor & Francis, 2016), and Ecologies of Power (MIT Press, 2016). In 2016, Bélanger curated the controversial exhibition Extraction for the National Canada Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale profiling resource extraction, territorial dispossession, and environmental injustice. Bélanger is the 2020 Senior Fellow in Landscape Leadership and Innovation at the Landscape Architecture Foundation.