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CAMBRIDGE SAFFRON: STORIES, IMAGES, RECIPES

6:00pm-7:30pm on Wednesday 6 April

Times shown are in GMT (UTC +0) up to the 26th March. For events on or after 27th March times are in BST (UTC +1).

Faculty of English, GR06/07, 9 West Road, CB3 9DP

Stories about the history of saffron in Cambridge, using the University’s collections: centuries of art and literature concerned with Cambridge’s role in the global history of ‘red gold’.

Throughout 2021-22, Kasia Boddy and Bonnie Lander Johnson will be PIs on ‘Cambridge Saffron’, a Cambridge Collections project. It is very unusual for a crop that flourishes in Crete and Kashmir to do well in Britain but from the late-14th century crocus provided a valuable cash crop for smallholders farming in the chalky fields of Cambridgeshire and Essex. Some was sent to London but much was sold to Cambridge colleges to flavour and ‘gild’ food, and for hygienic and medicinal purposes.

For centuries and across the globe, saffron has been used in cookery, medicine and hygiene, and as a pigment for manuscript illustration and a dye for cloth. Its colour in particular has played an important role in nationalist and religious discourses.

In 17th century Britain and Ireland, for example, Protestants talked of the ‘saffroned’ ‘staine’ of Catholicism, while in India today, saffron is associated with Hindu nationalism and critics complain that under Modi, the country and its history are being ‘saffronised’. This project draws on various Cambridge University and College collections to develop existing scholarship on the long history of the local and global saffron industry, focusing particular on cultural practices that developed around saffron use, its literary and visual representations, the practices surrounding its material properties (as colour pigment, medicine etc.), and the religious and political meaning attributed to this expensive commodity. While saffron’s dynamic global history is being mapped by scholars of environmental, social and economic history, and its medical uses are still being investigated, less attention has been paid to the literary and artistic depictions of saffron, and less still on the role Cambridge University played in growing, buying, using, and representing saffron.

This project brings to light the presence of saffron, or ‘red gold’, in the collections of the Fitzwilliam Museum, the University Library, the herbarium of the Botanic Garden and in the account books of colleges such as Peterhouse, King’s, Pembroke, Queens and Jesus, whose gardeners once cultivated saffron.

Booking/Registration is: REQUIRED

If you are attending in-person, a mask must be worn throughout the lecture.

The lecture will also be live streamed. Register at
https://cam-ac-uk.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0rfuuqqDIpEtZiwENpfTtXpubur...

Additional Information

Age: Adults
Format: Talk
Timing: Available on Demand
Cost: free
Event Capacity: 40
Theme: Health, Environment, Society
Accessibility: Lift, Step-free access

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9:30am-8:00pm on Monday 4 April
9:30am-8:00pm on Tuesday 5 April
9:30am-8:00pm on Wednesday 6 April
9:30am-8:00pm on Thursday 7 April
9:30am-8:00pm on Friday 8 April
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Timing: 
Available on Demand
In person
Format: 
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Other
Talk
Age: 
All Ages

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