The Cosmopolitan Amaranth: A Postcolonial Ecology

Christopher Lloyd De Shield


Paul Gilroy criticizes cosmopolitanisms centred on the North Atlantic as constituting simple updates of older imperial themes. Under Spanish colonialism, amaranthus species were banned because their ritual use was perceived as a parody of Catholicism’s Eucharistic rite and a threat to Spanish colonialist hegemony. In a twenty-first- century isomorphism, the amaranth’s adaptive potential has resulted in herbicide-resistant weeds that parody Monsanto’s patented feats of genetic engineering.

Unearthing a postcolonial ecology of the amaranth—a genus mostly composed of edible weeds whose significance to national cultures runs concomitant with its cosmopolitan dispersion—might contribute to the project of recuperating cosmopolitanism in a novel way. It reveals a solidarity centred on the Global South articulated through comparativism at the micro level.


cosmopolitanism; postcolonialism; ecology; Global South; amaranth

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