Mass Historical Society: Sex in the Reeds: Disciplining Nature and Cultivating Virtue in the Back Bay Fens


Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 5:15pm to 7:30pm


1154 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02215

Zachary Nowak, Harvard University  Comment: Phyllis Andersen, Independent Scholar

With the introduction of discourse about “invasive exotic species” in the 1980s, the reason for the removal of reeds planted along the Muddy River shifted, from socio-sexual disapproval of illicit activities to “ecoxenophobia.” This essay aims to historicize “exotic” species to show that their labeling as such is a social construct, not a biological fact. Improving the Fens through planting and weeding has for more than a century really been a project to improve people.

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