Camilo Uribe Botta
I am a third-year PhD student currently working on the history of the orchid trade between Colombia and the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century. I am working under the supervision of Prof. Rebecca Earle and my research is kindly funded by the Chancellor's International Scholarship awarded by the Doctoral College of the University of Warwick.
Orchids of the greatest rarity of Colombia.
My thesis, provisionally titled Hunting Plants in the Northern Andes. The Commerce of Tropical Orchids between Colombia and the United Kingdom. 1843-1901 investigates the commerce of Colombian orchids in Victorian Britain. Long before they became an icon of Colombian national identity, orchids played a very important role in the commerce between the United Kingdom and Colombia. My goal is to both shed new light on the role of these plants in Colombian nineteenth-century history, while also bringing attention to the current state of conservation of orchids.
My PhD thesis will investigate the role that orchids played in the relations between Colombia and the United Kingdom throughout the nineteenth century. I will build on the orchid mania phenomenon to explore the development of trade between Britain and Colombia in the post-independence period as orchids gained different meanings as they entered a global network of plant collecting. My research is therefore framed in different historiographical debates. From the global history of science perspective, orchids were conceived as botanical curiosities first and as the knowledge about them advanced, as scientific objects. And from a material culture approach, Colombian orchids, were part of a wider debate on luxury and consumption, as they are plants with no medical use, but with all the qualities of a luxurious commodity: scarce, difficult to obtain and expensive to maintain.
My work will focus on three layers of meaning. First, I will analyse orchids as botanical curiosities, viewing how it was discovered that Colombia was an especially rich country in orchids, taking the Royal Botanical Expedition in the New Kingdom of Granada between 1783 and 1816 and Humboldt travels to South America as a starting point to understand their insertion on the British scientific and amateur world around plants by the middle of the century. Then I will focus on their meaning as scientific objects, assessing their recollection and transport from the South American rainforest to English greenhouses, with the technology and new scientific knowledge around them. I will then shift the focus the economic and cultural impact of these plants in the United Kingdom to consider their reception as a commodity and consumption good, assessing the role of businessmen in large commercial houses in their sale and how one Colombian orchid, the Odontoglossum Crispum (Oncidium Alexandrae), became the most expensive orchid ever sold. My goal is to analyse the role of orchids as one of the main actors in the networks between Colombia and the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century.
My biggest professional project to date has been as assistant curator and then registrar and collections manager of the overhaul and total renovation of the Colonial Museum in Bogotá between 2013 and 2019. As registrar and collections manager, I was in charge, with the conservator, of the planning and organization of the new storages for a collection of almost 2.000 objects from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. In this function, I also co-authored an article on the Iconography in the Museum’s Furniture Collection featured in the Museum’s most recent catalogue. I worked for the Colonial Museum, which is under the Ministry of Culture of Colombia and also houses the Santa Clara Museum, for which I have been both an adviser and co-author, writing its most recent Historical Review.
Parallel to my work at the museum I have been involved as a consultant and historical adviser to diverse projects with the Birmingham Museum of Art (2020), the archaeological and museological plan to the Canoas Archaeological Park in Soacha (2018), as well as Netflix and Caracol TV feature project "Bolívar" (2016-2018) and the guided tour plan for the Colon Theater (2015).
I am currently involved with different interdisciplinary academic and non-academic projects within arts and humanities and social sciences such as the Latin American platform Humanidades Ambientales and the Silent Orchid Festival and Summer School.
- 2019-2023: PhD in History. University of Warwick.
- 2014-2016: MA in History. Universidad de los Andes (Bogota, Colombia)
- 2007-2012: BA in History. Universidad de los Andes (Bogota, Colombia).
Funding and awards
- Doctoral Fellow. Humanities Research Centre. University of Warwick. (2021)
- Scholar. Plant Humanities Summer Program, Dumbarton Oaks. (2020)
- Chancellor's International Scholarship. University of Warwick. (2019-2023)
- Uribe Botta, Camilo. " 'Orchids of the greatest rarity of Colombia'. Collecting orchids in the Northern Andes in the 1840s. Global History and Culture Centre Blog. The University of Warwick. 2021. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/ghcc/blog/orchids_of_the/
- Lawrence, Anna., Uribe Botta, Camilo. & Wang, May. (2021) 'Watermelon: Stereotypes of Race and Class', Dumbarton Oaks, https://lab.plant-humanities.org/watermelon/
- Uribe Botta, Camilo. "Las orquídeas colombianas en Europa en el siglo XIX. Entre la ciencia y el comercio". En Credencial Historia. Coleccionar durante el siglo XIX. Edición 368. Bogotá. Sept. 2020. Pp 11-15. ISSN: 0121-3296. https://www.revistacredencial.com/historia/temas/las-orquideas-colombianas-en-europa-en-el-siglo-xix-entre-la-ciencia-y-el-comercio
- Uribe Botta, Camailo. "Las orquídeas engañan". Brújula: Revista interdisciplinaria sobre estudios latinoamericanos. Vol 13. no. 1, Dec. 2020. Pp 202-208. http://brujula.ucdavis.edu/uploads/8/1/9/3/81930408/10._uribe_camilo._las_orquideas_enga%C3%B1an.pdf
- Uribe Botta, Camilo "Roberto Pizano y el apostolado sobre nácar de Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos: Un símbolo del coleccionismo en Colombia". En Olga Acosta, Adriana Páez, Camilo Uribe, Banco de la República. Imágenes sobre nácar. El apostolado de Gregorio Vásquez de Arce y Ceballos. Colección de Arte del Banco de la República. Bogotá; Banco de la República. 2020. Pp. 29-43. ISBN: 9789586644129.
- Uribe Botta, Camilo. "Iconografía del mueble colonial: imágenes para el uso cotidiano" Catálogo Museo Colonial. Vol III. Mobiliario. Ministerio de Cultura. Bogotá. 2018. Pp. 101-119. ISBN: 978-958-5488-65-6
- Uribe Botta, Camilo, Juan Pablo Cruz Medina, Viviana Arce Escobar. Reseña Histórica del Museo Santa Clara. Ministerio de Cultura. Bogotá. 2014. ISBN: 978-958-753-149-7
Odontoglossum Crispum (Oncidium Alexandrae)
Proyecto de digitalización de los dibujos de la Real Expedición Botánica del Nuevo Reino de Granada (1783-1816), dirigida por José Celestino Mutis: www.rjb.csic.es/icones/mutis.
Real Jardín Botánico-CSIC.
Collection of the Schomburgkia.
Edouard-Fracçois André and Edouard Riou.
Le Tour du Monde. 1878.